Initiative continues to expand and help students across the country prepare for a career in welding

PASO ROBLES — Welding students at Paso Robles High School (PRHS) have been chosen to participate in the Airgas High School Welding Education Initiative. The initiative continues to expand and help students across the country prepare for a career in welding. 

Airgas, an Air Liquide company, is an American supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases, as well as hardgoods and related products.

For the 2023 academic year, 14 returning schools and 41 new schools from 22 states have been selected to be part of the program.

These programs were chosen based on four key factors: high unmet need at the school, a productive welding program with the potential to graduate job-ready welders, passionate teachers, and enthusiastic local Airgas champions. Participating programs receive a customized mix of hands-on professional development training or continuing education for welding teachers in close collaboration with Airgas associates. In addition, Airgas donates welding consumables or equipment, safety PPE, and other resources to help support welding program growth within these schools.

The American Welding Society (AWS) forecasts that 336,000 new welding professionals are projected to be needed by 2026, with 84,000 average welding jobs to be filled annually between 2022 and 2025. Since 2018, Airgas has assisted 72 schools, 4,200 welding students, and nearly 450 instructors across the country. In the past two years combined, more than 250 students obtained welding jobs directly after graduating from a school program supported by Airgas donations.

This Airgas program has built long-term relationships between local educators and Airgas welding and safety experts. The Airgas High School Welding Education Initiative falls under the Airgas Citizen at Work program, which empowers all associates to engage in volunteer activities and give back to their communities. Through the high school welding program, as part of the larger Citizen at Work umbrella, Airgas associates have volunteered hundreds of hours in dozens of communities to collaborate with the instructors and students for each school.

As the High School Welding Education Initiative continues to grow, there has also been increased interest and support from all aspects of Airgas’ business, including associates, customers, suppliers, government officials, and Air Liquide colleagues, who all have a shared interest in cultivating the next generation of welders to advance the industry in the years ahead.

“As we welcome a record number of schools into the High School Welding Education Initiative Class of 2023, we hope our continued and increasing contributions to welding education inspires students to fill their potential in a welding career, and supports welding educators and schools throughout the United States who are preparing graduates to enter welding, engineering and technical careers,” said Airgas Chief Operating Officer Jay Worley. “This program’s growth is possible because of our many passionate associates who are stepping up to share their expertise in the communities where they live and work, as well as our customers, colleagues and collaborators who continue to advocate for the importance of welding education.