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Why would I want to be a welder?!

January 9, 2015


It’s been a while since my last post, but I read an article this morning that inspired me. This article on Yahoo (originally published in the Wall Street Journal) tells the story of a young man of two college-educated parents who has chosen a much different route for his career – and is having phenomenal success doing so. The article shares how, at age 24, Justin Friend is pulling down $140,000 a year! That’s not a typo. One-hundred-forty-thousand dollars a year!

I’m sure many folks have heard Mike Rowe speak, at some point or another, about the steady (and quickening) decline of “skilled labor” in the US. The fact is, many of us were raised on the backs and salaries of hard-working manufacturing-employed parents. Germany, a country that is thriving economically, has a much different reality with respect to skilled labor. This article does a great job explaining a bit about how focused the German culture is when it comes to choosing and pursuing a career path.

At EWI, one of the most common concerns we hear from our member companies is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified workers. Most folks immediately think about people with the right college degrees – but that’s only a small part of the problem. Our customers need good NDI technicians, machinists, automation experts, maintenance technicians, and, of course, welders. We viewed the issue with welders as such a high priority that we invested our own funding to develop a training solution and spinout company, RealWeld Systems (recently acquired by Lincoln Electric). As manufacturing continues its comeback in the US – something EWI is very keenly supporting – the needs for these skilled trades will only increase (as will the compensation and job security).

To sum it all up – as a parent of two young children – I think it’s time we start encouraging our kids to understand the values of hard work and determination that lead to future stability and financial compensation. Naturally, college is one route to success. But I can show you a hundred and forty thousand reasons why it’s not the only route.