LILLINGTON — Metal fused to metal as Jason Morris, a welding student at Central Carolina Community College, welded an angle bend. After completing the job, he lifted his face shield and smiled with satisfaction.
“I’ve learned a lot and I’ve enjoyed it,” he said.
Morris, of Apex, had just completed his SIP (stay-in-place) welding certification through the JobsNOW welding class at CCCC’s Harnett County Campus. After three semesters and 300 hours of instruction and practice, he is now certified not only in SIP, but also in MIG, TIG, stick and gas welding.
Morris, a welder for eight years, decided last year that he wanted to start his own business. Recently, he was able to move from being an employee to a small business owner, basing his success on the additional skills and certifications he gained in the welding program.
“I’ve been staying busy, mainly equipment repair,” he said with another smile. “I also do some ornamental art work. There are robotic welders that some companies use, but they can’t replace a good welder. Whether you’re building a nuclear power plant or a bird house, there’s always something to do.”
The JobsNOW workforce development program is a statewide initiative of Gov. Bev Perdue in response to the recession. It trains unemployed or under-employed workers with in-demand job skills to get them back in the workforce quickly. It has also benefitted people wanting to start their own businesses, such as Morris. JobsNOW is a separate program from the other continuing education and curriculum workforce training programs the college offers.
Josh Britton, owner of Britton’s Welding, in Lillington, is the instructor for the course. Richard Maxon, transportation technician for the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways Materials and Tests Unit, did the SIP certificate testing.
“Having a certification says a lot to an employer,” said Britton. “Graduates of this program can most definitely find jobs, from metal fabrication to equipment repairs.”
Welding student Richard Modicue, of Lillington, worked carefully with his torch. The JobsNOW program, in conjunction with other courses he has taken, has given him great hope for the future.
“I’ve been out of work for three years and I want to get back into the workforce,” he said. “I love learning to weld.”
After losing his job, Modicue put off going back to school for retraining, but finally told himself he was going to do it. Now, he has his plans laid out. So far, he has earned his Career Readiness Certificates in foundational workplace skills through the college’s Human Resources Development program and his welding certificates through the Continuing Education Department’s JobsNOW progam. He is now enrolled in Human Services Technology classes at the college, looking forward to a career as a youth counselor. He plans to work as a welder to pay for his college education.
“Thirty years ago, I never thought I would be attending school again,” he said. After thinking of how far he has come and the goals he has achieved, he added, “If you don’t try, you never know.”
Bill Tyson, CCCC Harnett County provost, said he enjoys hearing these kinds of success stories.
“Our programs are here to serve the community,” he said. “The JobsNOW initiative was a good addition to all the workforce development and educational opportunities we offer. It has enabled more people to upgrade their job skills and return to the workforce or start their own businesses. That’s success.”