Notes from the President

Dr. Chris Gray, Ph.D. | Founding President, Erie County Community College of Pennsylvania

It’s no secret that I get super excited every time we do something here at EC3PA to help serve Erie County students — both current and future. Crafting programs and degrees that meet students where they are and help to get them to where they want to be is at the heart of what we do here, after all. As I’ve said time and time again, it’s literally why we’re here!

We’ve recently taken another important step in our mission of serving the Erie County community. I’m pleased to share that the EC3PA Board of Trustees approved at its March 2022 meeting the creation of a brand new Welding Certificate program, set to launch in Fall 2022. A quick Google search shows that Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the top states in need of qualified welders, and this is echoed by websites such as the career recruitment-focused, which provides helpful information on how to become a welder. It’s definitely a career that’s on the rise!

In fact, in recent years, welding has repeatedly emerged as a top occupational path — and for good reason. The American Welding Society (AWS) projects that the “U.S. welder shortage will reach a deficit of 400,000 workers by 2024.” The executive director of the AWS Foundation went on to say that “The shortage is due to attrition, whether it’s retirements, people leaving the industry, or moving and advancing” and “noted that thousands of older welders are reaching retirement age, and younger welders aren’t replacing them fast enough.” Fittingly enough, April is National Welding Month, and I wanted to take a few minutes to share how EC3PA is looking to help students who are interested in exploring or pursuing this high-demand career.

EC3PA’s Welding Technology Program will be one of our applied programs and will offer a certificate, allowing those who complete it successfully to enter the workforce and immediately gain employment within the welding industry. Our program will be comprised of stackable certificates, each of which takes one year to complete. Students who complete the Basic Welding Technology Certificate gain access to entry-level welding careers while those completing the Advanced Welding Technology Certificate would be prepared for more specific, advanced careers in production welding. Our multi-tiered program is suitable for those who are looking to join the welding field as well as those looking to advance in their careers, retrain, or broaden their skillset.

Because welding is a trade that requires training, experience, and specific skills, EC3PA’s instructors will be certified welding instructors (CWIs) as recognized by the American Welding Society. They will bring to their teaching substantial real-world experience and help to prepare students for the next step in their careers. As ever, we will offer day and evening course options to accommodate student schedules, and we will partner with Erie High School, Erie County Technical School, and the Corry Career & Technical Center located at Corry Area High School to bring this program to fruition.

I am so unbelievably excited to share this latest (but certainly not last) addition to the programs that we are offering to serve our community. As we continue to develop and deploy more programmatic additions to our repertoire, I’ll share them here as well. The addition of this welding curriculum is another fantastic step for students here at EC3PA!