AMFA-ED grant keeps local welding program on cutting edgeLake Superior School District has received a $5000 grant from the Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association Educational Trust for the purchase of new welders and consumable supplies.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Lake Superior School District has received a $5000 grant from the Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association Educational Trust for the purchase of new welders and consumable supplies.
The funding and equipment are a welcome addition, said Mike Fitzpatrick, instructor at Two Harbors High School, and will benefit three programs in the community—classes for students at the high school, the collaboration between the District and Mesabi Technical College that trains adults for career in manufacturing trades, and customized training for local manufacturers.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” said Fitzpatrick, who has seen the welding program evolve with the help of past awards from AMFA-ET, dating back to 2004. “ The grants have allowed the welding program in Two Harbors to become the envy of other programs. ”
According to its website, AMFA-ET aims to: “disseminate information about employment opportunities in manufacturing, provide grants to regional educational institutions, support lifelong learning in technical education, and raise funds in support of its mission.”
“They’re looking to try to help people coming into their industry. They’re a great organization,” said Fitzpatrick of AMFA.
In recent years the numbers of people pursuing careers in the manufacturing trades has declined. Fitzpatrick said that the reason may be that people don’t realize the opportunities that exist for welders and the part manufacturing plays in our region.
“I think a lot of people have no idea how important these industries are to the area.” He named local businesses like La Bounty and North Shore Manufacturing which were once small start-ups and now contribute significantly to the local and regional economy and employ tradespersons. The impending retirement of a generation of workers at the mining companies will result in yet more job opportunities, he said.
“Our local employers would sure like to see more people going into this,” Fitzpatrick emphasized, touting the role the welding programs can play in preparing the next generation. “This Mesabi program is really nice. It gives kids who don’t want to leave the area a chance to get training right here in Two Harbors.”
As a resident of the area, Fitzpatrick said he’s committed to helping people in local communities and that the training can bridge the gap for people who are in need of good jobs. To that end the District has sought funding from other sources, such as the IRRRB, to ensure that their programs provide students with state of the art equipment.
“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come from the rag-tag equipment we used to have. Now we’re one of the top schools in the state. It’s pretty cool. I used to dream of having equipment like this,” he said.