Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Several entities came together to partner on this unique training program at a Canby business

Last winter, Clackamas Community College, Clackamas Workforce Partnership and TechHire Clackamas got together with ICC-NW, a welding company here in Canby, and together launched a program to train students to learn welding and provide them with a career going forward.

Thirty potential students applied and 11 of them made it into the program they are calling the Fabricator Curriculum plan. All eleven graduated on June 28. Those 11 were chosen based on aptitude tests, ambition and dedication. Several of them talked to the Herald during those early weeks and were excited and happy to learn on the job, especially since they were being paid to learn.

All eleven of the graduates were offered work at ICC-NW as part of the graduation ceremony. However, since it often takes about three years to become fabricators, they will still be considered fabricators-in-training. Since all have indicated they are interested in continuing at ICC-NW, their offers and acceptance was formalized during graduation. Those accepting the jobs had the weekend off and were back at their work Monday, July 1.

And, the program was so successful that plans for another training program are still under consideration, but according to ICC-NW, they will likely be offering another training program after a brief evaluation period.

As trainees, they were paid $16 per hour and worked 40 hours a week throughout the five-month program. In April, the trainee crew started receiving benefits and will continue to do so. Their pay will rise to $17 per hour for the initial 90-day probationary period.

James Knudsen, a continuous improvement engineer coordinated and administered the program along with trainer Matt Von Striver, a senior fabricator.

"I think one of the biggest benefits of this program is that we're able to reach out to our community to people who otherwise might not have had this opportunity to work in the trades, especially a highly skilled trade like this one," Knudsen said.

"We took people who showed drive and ambition and a real desire to work as our primary criteria along with some baseline aptitude, and we gave them a really great head start. Our partners helped with the expensive tooling and equipment that can create a real barrier to entry in this profession, providing our trainees with what they needed to succeed regardless of their financial background," he added.

They all worked from 4-p.m. to midnight when the day shift had left the work shop quieter and with more space.

Tom Brown, project outreach coordinator for Clackamas County Community College and TechHire said there have been other programs backed by a similar idea. "It wasn't hard to find people," he added. Some of them were very excited about their teachers and their work.

Shianne Davis-Chairet was the only woman in the program. She liked the idea of the program because "I'm too active of a person to enjoy sitting in a chair all day." she told the Herald back in March.

She also preferred the way she was taught—hands on along with the educator's confidence in all the students.

Charles Kopp also was impressed by the training. The single father was once shot by a robber during one of his many jobs said he found, "It's great they took people and put us to work right away." He also expressed happiness about his ability to meet and make friends with others in the program.

"Everybody is great. It's like we're one melting pot, we're all equal and accepting," said David Haury, who called his instructor "awesome."

It wasn't just the students who found the job awesome. "We appreciate the hard work, effort and sacrifice that they've put in to earn this major accomplishment. A lot of the people that are in this program did not have a strong fabrication background to begin with, and so to go from never having used a torch to being ASME certified to work on pressure vessels in our shop is a pretty big deal," Knudsen said.

ASME is an acronym for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, an American professional association that promotes the art, science and practice of multidisciplinary engineering and applied sciences, according to Wikipedia. In this case it is part of a welder qualification test.

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