SAN ANGELO – Approximately 40 graduating seniors with welding experience had the opportunity to connect with businesses in the welding and fabrication industries at the 2nd Annual Fabricator’s Recruitment Day Wednesday, April 26, 2023.
“I was really looking forward to this event,” said Mia Wesley, a senior welding student at Central High School. Mia, who has three years’ welding experience, said she plans to start working in the welding industry right after graduation. “I really like this fabricator’s event. It’s good to be able to see the businesses, learn about them and talk to them in person.”
During Fabricator’s Recruitment Day, which took place at Howard College, welding students participated in “speed-dating” style interview sessions with local businesses in the industry. During the interview, seniors were able to show the interviewer a small sample of their welding ability and provide a copy of their resume.
“With a total of 38 graduating welding students, we facilitated approximately 250 interviews in 4 and ½ hours,” said Mike Berry, San Angelo Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Manager. “Each employer got to conduct at least 20 interviews. It is rare for them to have access to that size of a dedicated talent pool interested in going to work.”
Daniel Gonzalez, a senior welding student at Central High School, also plans on entering the workforce as a welder after graduation. “I plan on getting to work as soon as I can,” Daniel said. “I’m ready to start working. I want to get straight to work, get straight to welding, get straight to making money.”
Daniel said that his teachers from Central High School as well as instructors from Howard College helped the students prepare for Fabricator’s Recruitment Day, including helping students prepare a resume. “They really took care of us,” Daniel said. “They’re really, really helping with getting us jobs. This is just a great opportunity.”
Many factors contribute to the skilled labor shortage numerous skilled trades face, including recession, priorities in education and lack of younger workers to fill vacancies left by older generations.
“Industry needs a sustainable pipeline of talent from community colleges, trade schools, and high schools – especially high schools,” said Mr. Berry. “To secure that, we need the businesses inside the schools and the schools inside the businesses. Fabricator’s Recruitment day is a significant part of that endeavor.”
The annual event is a collaborative effort of SAISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE)department, San Angelo Chamber of Commerce Economic Development team, San Angelo Regional Manufacturer’s Alliance (SARMA) and Howard College. SAISD’s CTE program provides students with an array of options to explore and prepare for their individual success – whether that is pursuing a college education or entering the workforce.
“Students aren’t always aware of the career opportunities available to them,” said Roxanne Fentress, SAISD Director of Career & Technical Education. “By partnering with the City of San Angelo, we become more knowledgeable of the employment needs of our community and can guide our students to career areas that are in high demand in our area.”
SAISD’s CTE program and the City of San Angelo have been working to provide students insight and access to opportunities in the San Angelo area. “Over the past year, we have facilitated welding students tours of our local fabricator’s plants to help foster relationship building between the students and potential employers, expose them to the real-world work environment, and enlighten them to the opportunities right here in San Angelo,” said Mr. Berry. “Ultimately our goal is to deliver access; unprecedented employer access to the future workforce, and student access to employers that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Brittany Tidwell, with ALNC Inc. Steel Fabrication & Manufacturing, said Fabricator's Recruitment Day and letting students know alternative career paths available is important. “You don’t have to follow the traditional ABC path,” Ms. Tidwell said. “This is another ABC. It’s super important to prepare students for that and let them know that coming out of high school, we have positions available and ready to go. This is a good path, a profitable, livable path.”
Mr. Berry said the employers were impressed with the students and their skill level. “In speaking with the employers about their experience, they all explained how impressed they were with the caliber of candidates, the quality of their welding skills, and overall how pleased they were to be a part of the event,” Mr. Berry said. “Many expressed interest in being more involved with the welding program, whether it’s lending their expertise, helping with student projects, or opening their doors to these students.”
SAISD would like to acknowledge ALNC Inc Steel Fabrication, Dragon Industries, Heare Services, Long Industries Inc., Wendland Manufacturing and Western Towers, who helped make Fabricator’s Recruitment Day possible. We thank these community partners for supporting the future opportunities of our CTE welding students as they prepare to begin a new chapter toward their own dreams. For more information on how to participate in Fabricator’s Recruitment Day in the future, please contact Roxanne Fentress or Mike Berry.