Shortage of 400,000 welders predicted in next 4 years

Big companies flock to Hillsborough Community College to woo students in the welding program. The stakes are high for welding recruiters.

"By the year 2024, we'll be over 400,000 shortage of welders in the United States," says Randy Kelley with Tampa Tank Inc. He says the industry is evolving. "One of the things that's been really big in the welding industry is the introduction of robotics."

That's where H.C.C. stays ahead of the curve. Administrators are putting advances in technology at the forefront of the curriculum. Lead welding instructor Logan Harry says today's welder needs to be more tech-savvy.

"We are buying new equipment. The industry is telling us the need and then we are providing the student with that ability," he explained.

Student Samuel Serrano says that type of hands-on, tech-based experience is hard to come by in a classroom setting.

"We even have a submerged arc welder that we've learned on, which is a semi-automated process that a lot of technical schools don't even touch on," he said.

It's not just the H.C.C. welding department keeping up with the times. Diesel technician student Bianca Melendez says you can't go far in the industry without a solid technology background.

"Maybe back in the day it was a possibility, but now everything is electrical. Everything is computer-based now," she offered.

Robert Half Recruiting's Michael Clemens says its education that's preparing students for a wealth of opportunity.

"Right now, it’s just this super-intense job market for technology. Employers who are moving quickly on hiring decisions are reaping the benefit of getting the top talent in our community."

Hillsborough Community College grads aren't having any problems finding jobs. The welding program boasts a job placement rate of 80% and the diesel tech program is at 100%.