Youngwood community college among national initiative finalists

© Shutterstock

A program at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood is among five finalists for the Advanced Welding Workforce Initiative (AWWI).

AWWI is a partnership that has invested approximately $1 million in education and training for advanced technical workers in Appalachia. It is a partnership between the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The college’s Advanced/Special Alloy Welding Program expands existing welding programs to include advanced alloys for high-temperature fossil-based power plants, aviation, and the automotive and petrochemical industries.

AWWI selected the finalists based on regional needs such as recruiting workers in long-term recovery from substance use disorder, expanding offerings into economically distressed areas, and targeting designated Opportunity Zones.

“The plentiful energy resources being extracted in the Appalachian Region are yielding a value chain that can create thousands of well-paid, high-skill jobs for Appalachian workers, including in advanced manufacturing techniques,” Tim Thomas, ARC federal co-chairman, said.

The other finalists include Robert C. Byrd Institute Advanced Welding Program at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va.; Southeast Community and Technical College Harlan Welding Expansion in Harlan, Ken.; Calhoun Community College Robotic Welding Program in Decatur, Ala.; and Belmont College Eastern Ohio Appalachia Pipe Welding and Fabrication Project in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The winner will be announced by spring.