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Welding isn’t for the weak. As someone who personally gave it a try myself, I can tell you it’s not as easy as it may seem. It’s a hot, difficult and physically tasking job — but absolutely necessary to a variety of products and infrastructures. Many people don’t realize the importance welding plays in everyday life — from consumers and the general public to company leaders.

April is National Welding Month, so now is the time — more than ever — to learn about and appreciate the trade. With ubiquitous conversation on the skills gap in the manufacturing industry, and especially with the growing demand to fill welding positions, spreading knowledge and awareness is a key factor in creating interest among younger generations.

Welders build the world we live in. American Welding Society President David McQuaid explains the extensive impact welding has on all of us:

“Welding is an essential part of everyday life. From cars to high rise office buildings, airplanes to rockets, pipelines to highways, none of it would be possible without welding.”

According to McQuaid, by the year 2025, the U.S. will be faced with a shortage of more than 400,000 welding professionals. While a “welder deficit” is certainly not a new concept, that number seems to have grown substantially over the past few years as fears about the skills gap grow with younger generations entering the workforce and older, more skilled generations retiring.

The key is to attract younger generations to the trade by educating them and encouraging them to get involved with programs that can offer insight into the industry. There’s often a misconception that welders can’t make decent money compared to their white-collar counterparts, but that’s not necessarily true.

It’s not just younger generations that can be targeted, however — women are underrepresented in the manufacturing industry as a whole, but particularly in welding. In fact, according to data from the Department of Labor, only 4.8 percent of workers in welding, soldering and brazing were women in 2014. Encouraging women to take an interest in the trade can help reduce the gap and increase diversity in the industry.

So this month, take time to appreciate and learn about welding. Think about all the ways welding impacts your daily life, and help change the negative perceptions and stereotypes about the trade. So many things, from the small appliances in your kitchen all the way to space travel, wouldn’t be possible without it.

How do you recognize and participate in National Welding Month? Comment below or tweet me @BetheABM.

Data from the Department of Labor shows only 4.8 percent of workers in welding, soldering and brazing were women in 2014. Krystal Frank, an Illinois-based welder, is the only female welder with her current company.
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