Industry News

Abrasive Blast Machine Manufacturer and Local College Launch State-funded Welder Apprenticeship Program

On August 21 last year, Clemco Industries Corp. of Washington, Missouri, in collaboration with East Central College in neighboring Union, Missouri, launched their Welder Apprenticeship Program. Four Clemco employees currently are enrolled in the three-year program, which is funded by a Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program (MORAP) grant. The $239,550 MORAP grant, awarded by the Missouri Department of Workforce Development, has enabled East Central to partner with Clemco to develop apprenticeship programs. 

The four Clemco employees in the Welder Apprenticeship Program range in age from 20 to 33 and from between less than a year and 4.5 years of employment in the Clemco manufacturing facility. Last fall they spent their Tuesday and Thursday evenings in four-hour, hands-on classes on the East Central campus that taught metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG), and stick welding. The MORAP grant covered the students’ tuition and book fees, and they maintained their day jobs at Clemco.

“Our program with East Central College offers four of our employees an opportunity they may not have otherwise had,” says Clemco Vice President of Manufacturing Lou Ann Feldman. “Clemco now can more easily help four good employees progress within the company, and for that we, and I know they also, are grateful.”

After completing the fall semester of instruction at East Central, the four apprentices began transitioning into full-time welding positions at Clemco¬¬. The hours they work count toward their on-the-job training required to earn their specialization in welding certificates from East Central.

In mid-January, KETC Channel 9 (the St. Louis pubic television station) posted a video about the Welder Apprenticeship Program in its Working St. Louis web series, which explores in-demand jobs and careers in the region that are attainable after high school, with or without a college degree. The series is part of public media’s American Graduate: Getting to Work initiative. The video can also be viewed on YouTube

Clemco Industries is headquartered in Washington, Missouri, and has nearly 150 employees. It is the world's largest manufacturer of air-powered abrasive blast equipment used to clean, deburr, shot peen, remove coatings, finish, or otherwise improve surfaces being blasted. Since the mid-1940s, Clemco Industries has built industrial-grade blast equipment for contractors, facility owners, metal fabricators, and manufacturers around the globe, and also offered safety and protection accessories. 

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