Rosedale introduces welding program to meet employers' demands
June 12, 2015 12:00 AM
Nick Hoovler, of Fredonia, practices a MIG weld technique during a class at Rosedale Technical Institute on June 3.
Instructor Cliff Kauer watches Rick LaFace, 44 of West Mifflin, practices a MIG welding technique at Rosedale Technical Institute.
Rosedale Technical College President Dennis Wilke talks to welding students at Rosedale Technical Institute. The institute has initiated an eight-month welding program in response to regional employers' demands for graduates with the skill.
Julian Morena, a welding instructor at Rosedale Technical Institute, watches Ian Love, 28, of the South Side, practice an oxy-fuel weld.
By Bob Podurgiel
Nick Hoovler came a long way to become one of the first students in the welding program that started March 30 at Rosedale Technical College in Kennedy.
The Mercer County resident from Fredonia feels right at home.
“I love it here. The president of the school knows students by their first name, and the instructors are phenomenal,” he said.
Mr. Hoovler hopes to take the skills he is learning in the welding program and open his own shop in metal fabricating, specializing in hot rod design.
Dennis Wilke, the president and director of Rosedale, said students wanting to start their own business is fairly common.
“About two-thirds of our students want to eventually open their own shops,” he said.
To help those students, Rosedale is starting an Applied Business Management Program in February. It will enable students to learn the administrative side of a business to accompany their technical skills.
In the meantime, Rosedale students are in great demand by employers because they’re ready to hire.
“In welding, we have more jobs than students,” Mr. Wilke said. He is proud of his school’s placement rate for graduates, which is more than 90 percent with some programs reaching 100 percent.
Rosedale offers training for careers in automotive, diesel, electrical, HVAC, industrial maintenance and truck driving.
Debbie Bier, director of admissions, attributes a lot of the success for the high placement rate to stringent, pre-screening of students.
“They take a math test, an aptitude test, and we do a criminal background check,” she said. “We want to make sure the student is a good fit for the program they choose.”
Ms. Bier said another reason the school achieves such a high placement rate is because it works closely with potential employers to ensure the students have marketable, up-to-date skills.
There are 425 students, she said, and the school is in an expansion mode.
“We are adding a second floor to the main building, and are including a lounge for veterans,” she said.
While the typical student is in the 18-to-25 age group, she said they are seeing more veterans and older students who want to start a second career.
They had one student who was in his 60’s retraining to work in the Marcellus Shale gas industry, she said.
Mr. Wilke said students who have skills working with diesel equipment are in great demand right now by companies working in the Marcellus Shale gas fields.
“There are a lot of jobs going unfilled now,” he said.
The school is adding more night classes to accommodate non-traditional students like returning veterans, and he believes the school plays a role in shaping a stronger economy and nation.
“I see our work as a patriotic mission. If we are not competitive, we will lose our position in the world,” he said.
Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: email@example.com.
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