If you didn't see the story about the Boy Scouts now offering a welding merit badge, you can learn more about it here. The story's author ties it into the overall need for a new generation of welders, which sort of makes sense. Frankly, I was amazed the Boy Scouts didn't already offer such a merit badge; I guess they are always prepared when it comes to wooden soap box racers—not metal ones.
I'm not going to jump on my soapbox and spread the news about manufacturing's need for welders. The American Welding Society says that the average age of this country's 450,000 welders is 55 and fewer than 20 percent are under 35 years old. That about sums up the challenge that lies ahead.
No. I'd rather talk about the changing definition of a welder. For many in the metal fabricating world, welder means a production welder. I'll let the quote from one teenager highlighted in the MSNBC story sum up that job: "Welding would be a great side job. But it gets real boring, real fast." He left out the part about working in extremely hot conditions with bulky clothing, but he nailed it. (more...)