Sparked by an industry demand for highly skilled craft workers, Dallas ISD has brought welding back to its career pathway program at L.G. Pinkston High School.
The program slots into the Architecture and Construction pathway, which allows students to earn college credit while in high school, allowing for an easier transition into the workforce after graduation.
This year, DISD is starting an immersive welding program that starts with ninth- and tenth-grade students like Jose Campos.
"I've been doing this all freshman year and beginning of this year," Campos said. “I thought it was fun and it looked interesting and there is a lot of job offers for it.”
DISD has partnered with El Centro College - West Campus, just across the street, to allow students the opportunity to work in a virtual welding lab during their junior and senior years.
Kenneth Easley has taught a variety of technical classes at Pinkston in his 13 years on campus. The craft welder says he is especially pleased the district returned welding to the pathway program.
"I’m excited because my welding teacher, he put me where I am today," Easley said. "And the jobs are in demand. I've had students earn anywhere from $55,000 a year to well into the six figures."
The Associated General Contractors of America 2016 Texas Workforce Survey released this month found the three out of four companies struggling to fill some hourly craft positions. Half of them specified welders as a tough job to fill.
That’s good news for students like Campos.
“I’d be happy about a job too, it would be a good life," Campos said.