COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - High school seniors from around South Georgia are one step closer to building successful careers in welding.
Colquitt County High School hosted an intense skills competition for a chance to win scholarship money.
And this young talent is in high demand.
Almost everywhere you look, you can see something that was welded.
Tulsa Welding School Admissions Representative Tony Dues said, “Fifty percent of everything in the United States has to be welded.”
Right now, we're 300,000 welders short in the country, making newcomers into the industry in extremely high demand.
Dues said, “The average age of a welder is 54 years old. They're retiring faster than what we can replace them. So it's a very good opportunity for young men and women to really make a very good living that they will have a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.”
Skills that 36 high school students from eight counties showed off during a welding competition at Colquitt County High School.
Welding Instructor Tim Hobbs said, “These kids are looking to get into this as a career. So this gives them the opportunity to earn scholarships to be able to get into the educational facilities to learn to be a better welder.”
Tulsa Welding School gave $250 scholarships to every participant, while the winner walked away with a $1,000 scholarship.
Money that will jumpstart their careers.
Hobbs said, “But they don't have to go looking for a job. There are so many jobs and such an availability, they can tour the world.”
Or they could stay right here in Georgia.
Dues said, “Georgia in itself has a lot of welding going on right now and needs a lot of help. You have the power plants, the sports stadiums, they just allotted money for bridges and roadways.”
The top five contestants were from Colquitt, Catoosa, and Crisp counties.
Lee County Senior Jacob West took home the first place prize.