Labor and Economic Opportunity
National Welding Month offers important opportunity to spotlight, recognize professionals in high-wage, high-demand field
CONTACT: Erica Quealy,
Friday, April 19, 2019
LANSING, Mich.— With more than 1,500 annual openings and a shrinking Professional Trades workforce, Michigan needs more welders.
Jessie Rowley, 28, thought she was destined to become a dentist liker her uncle, but after taking career and technical education courses in health occupations at Wilson Talent Center, she quickly realized that path wasn’t for her, and yet, she was hard pressed to find a career where she could work with her hands.
She thought going into culinary was the next best route, unfortunately, the community college program was cancelled before she could take her first class, then she tried business and found another misfit – ultimately, having to take time away from school to plan her next move.
As a kid she recalled, a childhood friend’s dad, who owned an auto repair shop, who showed her some welding basics, “He would always say ‘when you see that blue light turn away, it’ll hurt you,’ he kind of sparked my interest in welding,” she said.
While working in Mt. Pleasant she was offered an opportunity to weld, and really enjoyed the experience, which led her to pursue an associate’s degree in welding at Lansing Community College (LCC) and before graduating, Jessie had a job lined up.
Enduro Engineering is a local business with international reach, they design and build off-road motorcycle racing products for top-level racers around the world and hired Jessie a little over two years ago to be an aluminum welder for some of their most sold products – skid plates, radiator braces and front disc guards, to name a few.
“In addition to the hands-on training I received at LCC, the instructors and faculty were supportive and helped me to round out my welding skills so I would be ready to weld in any job, setting me up for success in my career.”
Professional Trades careers pay about 45 percent higher than other occupations and offer a median salary of $53,000 – many of these opportunities are obtainable with little to no student debt.
“Jessie took an unconventional path, but ultimately it led her to a promising Professional Trades career,” said Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Acting Director Stephanie Beckhorn. “We’re working hard to make sure more students have an opportunity to gain employment by exploring the multitude of career paths and training or credential opportunities available across the state, ultimately leading them to promising careers in Professional Trades.”
One of the many misconceptions the state wants Michiganders to understand about Professional Trades – they are not dirty jobs, rather high-wage, high-skill career opportunities that are available through various education pathways, including credential attainment, two or four-year degrees. Matter of fact, “Enduro Engineering is one of the cleanest places I’ve ever worked at, and I don’t have to worry about dirtying my clothes or car after work,” Jessie said.
We rely on trade professionals to build the state’s vibrant communities, and help close the state’s talent gap – ultimately, leading the state to a stronger, healthier economy.
With 545,000 Professional Trades jobs coming open through 2026, the Going PRO campaign was launched to address the state’s talent gap issues and entice students to choose a Professional Trade or apprenticeship. “If you’re unsure whether or not a Professional Trade job is for you – just try it and commit to learning the skill.”
Demand for talent to fill Professional Trades jobs is on the rise. Jessie comments, “Welders are needed everywhere because you can’t put everything together with glue or nails – machines for automotive factories, buildings and even dirt bikes require welding for assembly.”
Jessie one day hopes to use her welding skills to create art, she has a passion for building and thinks welding can be beautiful, “There’s nothing better than being able to build, whether I’m putting together someone else’s designs or creating something from my own creativity.”
She understands the value of her work and says if you show the employer what you can offer, they’ll respect you, “As a woman there are some aspects that are physically challenging for me, but my coworkers see I’m doing a good job and have been very supportive.”
“I truly enjoy my job at Enduro – they treat me like family,” she said.
Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand soldering or brazing equipment to weld or join metal components or to fill holes, indentations or seams of fabricated metal products. Learn more about welding and other rewarding Professional Trades careers at Going-PRO.com.