Welding on the Reservation

A new program on the Lummi Reservation is offering the equivalent of full scholarships to ten aspiring Native American welders for an intense 16 week welding course.  They qualify as second-year union apprentices at the end of it!

New program teaches welding to Native Americans

LUMMI RESERVATION – Ten Native American men are getting an intensive course in welding that they hope will enable them to get better jobs, even in a sluggish economy.

The students train 10 hours a day, six days a week for 16 weeks, under a program through a new partnership among the U.S. Department of Interior, Lummi Indian Business Council, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and Native American Fabricators Welding School, a private welding school that operates on Lummi Reservation.

Art George, a welder and former chairman of Nooksack Tribe, started the school in 2008 with his wife, Rebecca.

He said the demand for trained welders remains brisk at refineries, boat builders, construction sites and shipyards as the older generation of welders retires.

Students who complete the intensive program qualify for hiring as second-year union apprentices, with pay starting at about $20 an hour.

After four years, they could qualify for journeyman welder status and make more than twice that, George said.


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