RCCC expands welding program to Cabarrus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 1, 2023

RCCC News Service

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has expanded its welding program to its South Campus with a large lab space equipped to offer hands-on instruction to students in Cabarrus County. The college’s South Campus is located at 1531 Trinity Church Road in Concord.

The new lab features the latest equipment, including virtual reality welding machines, and students in the program will learn a variety of welding processes that lead to immediate employment opportunities. Cabarrus County contributed $330,000 of the $674,500 cost for renovating the space that formerly housed RCCC’s motorsports program.

“The opening of the new welding lab comes at the perfect time, as Cabarrus County continues to grow and draw more industry,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We are thankful for the county’s support and look forward to preparing students for lucrative employment and filling the needs of businesses looking for skilled employees.”

The college held a ribbon-cutting, hosting representatives of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, the Rowan-Cabarrus Board of Trustees and other guests for a tour of the new lab space.

“New industry is creating greater demand for welders,” said Rowan-Cabarrus welding student Mira White, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting event. “I feel prepared to work after graduation and will have many choices for employment. Rowan-Cabarrus has done a great job bringing female welding students into its program.” White, the recipient of the College’s Daniel Hemric Be the Change Scholarship, added that the South Campus is a prime location for another welding program because of its convenient access from the nearby interstate and proximity to industrial growth.

With an influx of new businesses in Cabarrus County and many current workers nearing retirement age, the need for skilled welders continues to increase. The job market for welding occupations in Cabarrus County is projected to grow more than 15 percent during the next decade, outpacing state and national expectations. Twenty percent of the county’s current employees in the field are between 55 and 64 years of age, with another four percent over age 65.

To begin serving students at South Campus, Rowan-Cabarrus is offering a five-course certificate program in welding, with additional degree programs planned.

Welders are employed in a variety of settings, including motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, motorsports, construction and structural manufacturing, transportation, commercial and industrial machinery and equipment, and more. Many welders also open their own businesses, work as sales reps, or are employed as technicians and repair specialists.

The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College welding program produced the first graduating class when the institution opened 60 years ago and has a reputation for sending skilled employees into the workforce. Today’s welding students, and the opportunities available to them, look different than ever before with a resurgence of interest in trade jobs that are in high demand and pay well. More women are entering the field, and welding processes now incorporate advanced technology including computerized equipment and robotics.

The Rowan-Cabarrus welding program was one of eight national recipients of a 2019 grant from the American Welding Society to purchase high-tech virtual welding equipment and is a Lincoln Electric certified LEEPS program.

“The expansion of the welding program to South Campus will allow more students to learn this in-demand skill, which is directly related to our region’s workforce and economic development needs,” Spalding said.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).