Five employers in the Abilene area have been well served by a fast-track welding course, a five-week class that provides a foundation of skills a person needs to begin a career in this rapidly growing field. This program of the West Central Texas Workforce Developement Board certainly isnít as comphrehensive as the year-long welding certification course available at Texas State Technical College, but it helps create a pool of potential employees for firms that are experiencing a critical shortage of this type of skilled personnel.

The fifth such fast-track welding course in Abilene will begin next month. Last week, members of the board of the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation learned that a similar class could be in the works in Brownwood, with the assistance of the TSTC center here.

Statistics that board reviewed at the same meeting indicate that business ó and especially industrial business ó is good in Brown County and the rest of this immediate area. This spring, the unemployment rate has dropped dramatically from a level that was already low, even while more people were entering the work force.

A survey of industries in Brown County would show that one of the greatest opportunities for a good-paying career ó not just a job ó is in welding. The need for certified welders is high, but many employers canít wait. They need workers now.

But they also need good employees. They need workers who will show up for work on time, ready to do their jobs, and eager to learn and progress.

Workforce Development Board officials explain that the fast-track program is designed to teach not only basic welding skills, but also employability skills that apply to any job at any skill level.

Hopefully, such a course will become available here. The employers will benefit, and so will many in the local work force.

Brownwood Bulletin