Chaffey College Gets $2.9 Million To Build A New Welding Center
Chaffey College is getting nearly $3 million to build a new welding instruction facility. The goal is to prepare more students for careers in a growing but often overlooked industry.
Although the school's main campus is in Rancho Cucamonga, the new facility will be built in Fontana, at its Industrial Technical Learning Center, known as InTech.
Chaffey's welding students currently don't have a great workspace. In fact, they have to set up and tear down their stations in the parking lot every day. That's all changing soon.
"It will be a state of the art welding lab in terms of the equipment that we intend to install there and it will now go from, instead of having just 12 bays or work stations, we're going to have 16," said Sandra Sisco, director of economic development at the Chaffey College Intech Center.
She says there has been a shortage of welders over the past decade, leading to plenty of well-paying job opportunities.
"Just in the Inland Empire alone, there's almost 500 job openings every year," she says.
As of 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average hourly wage for welders in California of nearly $24, approximately $49,000 a year for full-time work. Experienced welders can make significantly more. Welders usually need a high school education plus on-the-job training to get hired.
The minimum wage in California is currently $13-14 an hour, depending on how many people a company employs.
The cost of training via the Chaffey College program is low, Sisco says, with most students paying little to nothing for the instruction.
Construction on the new welding facility is expected to get underway within the next 12 months. Funding is coming from a state allocation.
Chaffey, which is a community college, was also among the schools and non-profit organizations that recently received major gifts from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, who donated $2.7 billion to 286 organizations.
Scott said one of the considerations was a desire to focus on two and four-year colleges in traditionally underserved communities. Chaffey officials say they plan to use the $25 million gift to "support students who are the first in their families to go to college, students of color and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds."