Today, marks the first day of classes for a new Welding Specialist Program in collaboration with Tulsa Welding School (TWS) at The Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI), the largest heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration (HVAC/R) school in the country.

With capacity to accommodate 120 students and the first track of classes completely full, the expansion helps meet a growing industry demand and provides valuable training and career opportunities for interested individuals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Phoenix area is ranked among the top 10 cities for welder employment, with more than 4,000 welders, cutters, solderers and brazers employed though May 2016. Additionally, the American Welding Society estimates a shortage of 480,000 welders by 2024.

“Lincoln Electric and Tulsa Welding School have been partners for over 16 years, and we are excited to expand our valued relationship to RSI,” said Jerry Siko, district manager at Lincoln Electric. “Our partnership has offered the most up-to-date welding education to students throughout the country, and will be a huge benefit for the Phoenix market, which is brimming with jobs available for welders and fitters across most industries.”

The Welding Specialist Program focuses on welding safety, torch cutting processes, proper arc welding equipment setup, important welding control techniques, fundamental welding processes and basic welding metallurgy. Utilizing proven curriculum from Tulsa Welding School, classes are primarily lab based and prepare students for entry-level positions in structural, pipe and pipeline, and thin alloy welding.

With the opportunity to begin welding on the second day of class, students are provided invaluable hands-on experience throughout the length of the program to prepare them for successful careers upon graduation.

“I want to congratulate RSI for its expansion into welding. RSI has been working with Arizona’s government to meet the growing industry demand for highly qualified employees and will continue to make an impact with this new offering,” said Senator Catherine Miranda of Legislative District 27. “Phoenix students will benefit from hands-on training as well as leading classroom instruction from the largest welding school in the nation. Institutions like RSI are key to the development of Arizona and our community.”