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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Economic Adjustment Assistance 1 $200,000
Planning 17 $962,000
1 $30,000
Total 19 $1,192,000

Welding and metal fabrication are industries booming across U.S. oilfields. Yet while welding school graduates have little difficulty finding work, most employers have difficulty finding properly skilled welders.  No place is this discrepancy more pronounced than in the Canadian oil sands and the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota and eastern Montana where high demand for skilled industrial trades workers is creating huge opportunities for well-paying jobs. 

Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, welders who do not have up-to-date training may face strong competition for jobs. 1 This is especially true in the north central Montana area where welders, pipe fitters and fabricators must be certified in both the Canadian Welding Bureau and American Welding Society standards to work for companies that will assemble modules to ship to the Alberta oil sands areas.

With initial projections calling for at least 200 new positions for welders and fitters annually for the period 2013-2017, this demand has made training a top priority for Great Falls College, Montana State University. However, increasing training capacity will require a significant investment to upgrade both the program and the physical plant. With financial assistance from EDA, the College began renovating two existing buildings on the University’s campus in 2014 and is procuring industrial trade equipment to develop a trans-border Industrial Trades Training Center. The renovated training center will train welders for certification in both American and Canadian welding standards.  As a result of the training and dual certification, ADF International, a Canadian-headquartered company operating in Great Falls, has committed to employing 120 welders, fitters (assemblers), engineers, and other specialized trade workers.

1.The Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm#tab-6, accessed June 8, 2015.

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