Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4157 - Matthew Killebrew - email@example.com
Students and instructors pause for a moment before the inaugural welding program class held at the David Williams Jr. Career & Technical Center in Tunica, MS Tuesday evening.
TUNICA — Coahoma Community College (CCC) is taking its most successful short-term program on the road this fall with the goal of helping workers who were left unemployed after the closure of Harrah’s Casino (June of 2014) prepare for future, gainful employment in the welding field.
The inaugural class met inside the David Williams Jr. Career and Technical Center in Tunica, MS on Tuesday evening to begin its six-month program. Classes will meet three times a week for 16 weeks and upon completion of the course students will receive certificates in the areas they’ve completed.
The program will be taught by Jerry Ware who will receive initial instructional help from CCC’s certified welding instructor Robert Burnley.
Burnley has been in the welding field for nearly 50 years and holds the credentials to test, inspect and certify welders. He has been teaching for 45 of those years, and his “welding boot camp” has earned a reputation throughout the state for producing highly-skilled and qualified welders.
Ware has more than 26 years of experience, and was a 2004 welding graduate of Northwest Community College. He will be “cutting his teeth” for the first time as an instructor.
Roughly 1,300 workers were left unemployed when Harrah’s closed, and CCC’s Executive Director of Workforce Development Steven Jossell said this program was targeted specifically for them in partnership with South Delta Planning and Development and Rosa Fort High School.
“This program was developed on the heels of the Harrah’s Casino closure and consequently, we’re attempting to equip these dislocated individuals with a marketable skill,” said Jossell. “They will be transitioning from a service industry into a manufacturing industry environment, so there is a learning curve and a certain skill set involved in the process in order to complete the training and ultimately enhance and favorably impact their future economic opportunities.”
“Welding is one of the most marketable, lucrative and trending vocations in the United States and on a global spectrum. We have experienced great success with our short-term program at Coahoma Community College’s Workforce Development Center and we believe replicating that program here will be just as successful. I genuinely want to thank Mitzi Woods and Florine Miller (Workforce Director and NEG Coordinator respectively) with South Delta Planning and Development and the WINJOB center for being key players and instrumental in making this all possible.”
Ware, a second-generation welder who has worked recently in the welding field, said the students have the opportunity to learn skills that will make them directly marketable to employers and about safety in the workplace.
“I preach safety, so these students will definitely learn how to be safe on the job, because if you get hurt, than you can’t work, so we want to make sure they all stay safe,” said Ware. “And then of course, they will learn how to ‘mig’ and ‘tig’, the proper ways to turn a torch off and many of the other skills employers are looking for.”
Ware continued to say the opportunities for students who learn those skills will be wide open.
“There are plenty of warehouses and shops opening up around the area that are looking for welders — car plants, basically Robinsonville is turning into an industrial park right now so the jobs are going to be there for (these students),” Ware said. “I’ve worked for companies like KBH, and Saf-T-Cart, Rite-Hite and Great Dane and understand the qualifications and skill set that these companies are looking for, so we are really going to focus on those things and making these (students) successful.”
One of the program’s first students, Carron Robinson, said he registered for the course looking for a career, and not just another 9 to 5. He eventually wants to be an aircraft mechanic, and said having a welding background will help him achieve that goal.
“I was excited when I heard about this program because I knew that it would give me a chance at a much better career,” said Robinson who worked as a steward at Harrah’s before it closed. “Most available jobs are 9 to 5 and they don’t pay enough to keep you motivated to go daily, but this is something that pays well and I can get excited about long term.”
Another student, Avery Collins, said he had a friend in the welding field and he saw the benefits first hand and he’s grateful to CCC and its partners for the chance to learn.
“After losing my job, I decided that I needed to get licensed (in a trade) that would give me the skills to move up and that had a future in it,” said Collins who worked in the facilities department at Harrah’s before it closed. “I have a friend that is licensed and is a welder who told me that there was really good money to be made, and it would be a smart move on my part to learn how.”
“I am really glad that this opportunity was made available, and made available free of charge,” said Collins. “I am grateful that it is here and know it will be a big help for some members of this community.”
Anyone interested in enrolling in a short-term welding program through Coahoma Community College should contact CCC’s Workforce Development Center at (662) 621-4300.