The Alpena Community College welding and machine tool technology programs. Alpena CC Skilled Trades that can help them stay close to home, while making a good living.
The programs — which not long ago were dominated by male students — have also become more diversified as more women register to take advantage of the hands-on training.
Andrew Paad, machine tool technology instructor, said the program offers a safe working environment for students to learn to program and operate manufacturing and production equipment. Having the program in Alpena helps students find jobs in the field in Northeast Michigan, where there is high demand.
“The skilled trade positions aren’t replenishing themselves and because of that there is very high demand, and high paying jobs,” Paad said. “Right now, I have first semester students who we have placed in jobs locally.” Paad said when people think about working in a shop they envision dark and dirty work environments and standing in one place for many hours doing repetitive work.
He said that isn’t the case any more as technology is more environmentally friendly, and more comfortable workshops are the new norm.
“Those days are long gone,” he said. “Today’s shops are bright and clean and employees don’t want just a machinist any more, they want somebody that does it all. You’re not going to be just sitting in a welding booth for 10 hours a day.”
Tim Ratz, an ACC welding instructor, agreed with Paad that there is high demand if you know how to weld.
He said there are varying degrees of certificates and degrees students can work toward, which sets them up for a bigger payday when they get the job of their choice.
“Right now, I have never seen the job market for this as good as it is now, in the 20 years I’ve been here,” Ratz said. “The key is the jobs are local and the kids can stay at home and make a good living, often starting at $20 an hour with benefits.”
More women are registering for the courses, which is pivotal in helping fill the vast job openings locally and nationally.
“It is night and day compared to a decade ago,” he said. “Ten or 15 years ago, it was a totally different landscape, but now, it isn’t a thing. The women are accepted and there just isn’t any issue any more.”
The programs will undergo some changes in the near future.
The machine shop is moving into the old auto shop. Which will be re-outfitted and open up more space for students. For new equipment the school has, such as a robot.
The welding shop will also be expanded to better fit the needs of the students and equipment needed.
Alpena CC Skilled Trades “It’s exciting,” Paad said. https://discover.alpenacc.edu/