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Alabama’s manufacturing industry projects that by 2012 there will be a 20.7% increase in welding related areas (welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers) who use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand-soldering, or brazing equipment (America’s CareerInfo, 2005), with a projected 410 annual job openings in Alabama. Much of the increase is related to the rapid expansion of automotive manufacturing operations in the state. Since 1996, four major automotive companies have brought an estimated 17,000 new jobs to the state. In addition, industry tier supplier manufactures have located in the state and brought new demands for workforce training.

            The local workforce need is based WIA Regional Labor Market Information data for the Florence, Decatur, and Huntsville Areas (AL Dept. of Industrial Relations, June 2005). The employment projections for 2012 show a 27.6% increase in positions based on the 2002 baseline, representing 270 jobs. Much of this increase is due to large manufacturers like Boeing Decatur and the automotive industry. However, many local small companies need welders, including companies manufacturing products ranging from truck bodies (Heil Truck), flat-bed, steel trailers (Fontaine) and industrial fabricators (Triple A Welding). Based on feedback from local manufacturers, there is a critical need for both entry-level and advanced welders.

            Employers also identified the types of welding skills their employees need. The types mentioned were MIG (14), TIG (5), Stainless Steel (10), Plasma (10), Stick (10), Cutters (6), Solderers (4), and Aluminum (1). The numbers in parenthesis represent the number of local employers who identified the type of needed welding skills.