Ford, UAW, Wounded Warriors Team Up For Veteran Welding Program

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Much like Jaguar Land Rover’s own program, Ford is training military veterans for apprenticeships and entry-level civilian positions in welding in the auto industry and beyond.

Detroit Free Press reports the program, a partnership between the automaker, the United Auto Workers and Wounded Warriors Family Support, will teach welding to eight selected veterans of Enduring Freedom, Desert Storm and Desert Shield in a six-week course beginning this week. The course is being taught at the UAW Ford Technical Training Center.

The ultimate goal of the program is to send veterans into a profession where some 290,000 skilled welders will be needed by 2020, as explained to the students by UAW vice president James Settles Jr.:

The worst thing you can do is train people with the expectation they’ll get jobs and they don’t get jobs.

Aside from welding, Wounded Warriors founder and president Col. John Folsom is also looking into a 10-week machining course.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Cwallace Cwallace on Aug 12, 2014

    @BTSR, you will really enjoy a book called "Shop Class As Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford, if you haven't read it already.

  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Aug 12, 2014

    I wonder how much demand there is for hand-finish welding in automotive assembly these days? I would assume everything possible is done by robots, and that vehicles are designed to minimize human labor. My welding instructor in community college[1] started out at (I think) GM, and he spent his days changing the wire reels on the robots. He quit after a few years because he wanted to actually weld for a living. [1] That is where most vocational training is done these days, or at a focused tech school. Most public school systems don't want to spend the money on the dedicated equipment and instruction for something that few students are interested in.

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    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Aug 12, 2014

      danio3834, "Most of these welders will likely be working in skilled trades fabricating and setting up industrial equipment in plants." Or they could go into small-business for themselves. There is a huge demand for welders in the private sector. That happened to a guy I know who was a welder during his USAF career prior to his retirement. He was just sitting at home after he retired, watching TV all day, getting fatter and grubbier by the day, until I asked him to build a custom utility trailer for me (which he did). Now he builds custom utility trailers, either for individual customers or an outfit that sells trailers all over Texas and New Mexico. And he makes a handsome living at it. A lot more than his Air Force retirement each month. He also build the metal gates on my property, ramps, windmills and several other custom utility trailers, like the most recent one, a four wheel shorty for my Wacker 70 AC generator. He makes a darn good living at it, as long as he gets paid in cash (so he doesn't have to declare it as earned income and screw up his AF retirement pay and VA disability exemptions). He doesn't accept checks, or credit cards. But he does have a backlog of jobs for all sorts of utility trailers, gates, fences, lawn furniture, etc etc etc. I own both a MIG and a TIG welder, as well as an Oxy-Acetylene rig, all bought used over the years, but I'm no welder. So to me it is pure magic to see what this equipment can do in the hands of an experienced welder. Pure magic!

  • Jdash1972 Jdash1972 on Aug 12, 2014

    We don't need as many welders because we don't build as much stuff as we used to. So it's nice that someone projects we'll need thousands of welders but truth is these jobs don't pay as much as you think, unless it's something really specialized. $30/hour on contract labor is not going to make me stop what I'm doing and run out and learn how. I think the ability to weld and braze (well) is an amazing skill and I have great respect for people who can do it but the vast majority of people who make their living at this aren't getting rich.

    • Bikegoesbaa Bikegoesbaa on Aug 13, 2014

      I recommend you research the actual manufacturing output of America today vs at any point in the past. We build far more "stuff" now than at any point in history. We just do it with far fewer people.

  • BobinPgh BobinPgh on Aug 12, 2014

    Another reason for lack of skilled tradespeople: Their parents don't want them doing it. I came of age in the late 70s. I thought I might like to be an electrician but my dad was a dentist for the VA and also worked in a steel mill earlier in his life. He DID NOT want me going to the vo-tech school because of the "swearing and smoking and drinking those people do". I did try to train for accounting but it was not the best for me. By the time I learned a trade I am now too old to be hired. My brother was 12 years my junior and when he wanted to be an auto mechanic dad mellowed out and let him. He is an engineer now but did work in garages. Welding is a hard ___ job for the young, if these veterans are older, employers will think "you cannot handle the job".