BUENA VISTA, Va.- – Thirty-two percent of the workforce is made up of manufacturing jobs in Rockbridge County. With a new $20,000 grant from GO VIRGINIA, Byers Technical Institute can add to their program and in turn get more students hired as welders. Walt Johnson is the director at Byers.
"It's going to let us hire another full-time instructor, add a part-time instructor, expand our night program. We'll be able to add additional welding booths," said Johnson.
The American Welders Society estimates there will be shortage of 291,000 skilled welders in the next two years. Johnson said he has the students companies are looking for.
"I told someone just earlier this morning that if we had 20 welders graduating this month, we can have them all employed by the end of the month," said Johnson.
BTI just graduated their first welding student last month, with more graduates on the way. Their first female student also enrolled in the program in November.