The College of Southern Maryland and Earlbeck Gases and Technologies have formalized their longtime training partnership with a memorandum of understanding recently to provide students with the training and certification credentials needed to meet the expanding welder workforce opportunities, according to a CSM news release.

Through this partnership, CSM and Earlbeck will provide education, training, certification and business solutions in welding to the Southern Maryland region.

“This type of public-private partnership is valuable for our local employers to ensure we are preparing a skilled workforce that is trained and work-ready to meet the needs of businesses today. This will make our students more employable and ready to work from day one,” CSM President Maureen Murphy said in the release.

Advancements in materials, processes and equipment make modern welding an increasingly high-tech skill.

With an anticipated shortage of about 400,000 welders by 2024 as reported by the American Welding Society, job prospects are good for welders trained in the latest technologies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “many employers prefer to hire workers who have been through training or credentialing programs.”

“For several decades, Maryland based welding and manufacturing companies have relied on Earlbeck to provide quality welder training, welder certification and technical expertise,” said Earlbeck’s vice president of engineering, Andrew Hess. “This training will not only provide job-ready training for new students but also upskill those currently employed, and supporting local businesses with their expanding workforce needs.”

“We are particularly excited as this initiative provides a seamless pathway with highly regarded industry recognition for our students, and this coupled with highly effective industry connections will support students in obtaining jobs,” said Ellen Flowers-Fields, associate vice president of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at CSM.

Another benefit to the Center for Trades and Energy Training Welding Program powered by the Earlbeck Technical Center is that this partnership establishes an AWS Accredited Test Facility within CSM’s existing welding space. This program enables a welder who receives an ATF certification to take their credentials to any employer without having to recertify, as well as list them in the AWS National Registry of Certified Welders.

According to CSM’s Executive Director of Workforce Development Kelly Winters, the welding programs offered at the college’s Center for Trades and Energy at the Regional Hughesville Campus were developed several years ago using Earlbeck guidelines.

“Earlbeck is considered a respected industry leader, and even before we formalized this partnership with Earlbeck today we had worked with them over the years to provide curriculum that meets the changing industry needs,” Winters said. The agreement ensures continuous curriculum updating to support students and instructor training and credentialing of CSM faculty.

Hess told those gathered at the signing about the partnership and “magic” that happens between business and education that produces valuable employees.

“Our philosophy is we teach students how to weld, you (the business) teach them your craft whether it is sheet metal, aerospace welding or structural steel. We can provide them with those certifications they need to work at your facility,” Hess said. “That allows us to put together a quick turn-around program that produces quality employees.”

The signing was followed by a tour of the Center for Trades and Energy and CSM’s welding lab. Photos of the event are posted at csmphoto.zenfolio.com/earlbeckmou.