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New certificates could help KVCC grads break into job market

Sometimes all it takes is one or two college classes for someone to move from unemployed to working.

But those students may have difficulty letting prospective employers know of their new qualifications. For them, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has created certification in three areas: Machine Tool Operator, Welding and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Operator.

Howard Carpenter, KVCC Machine Tool instructor, Carpenter says there are currently about 50 students in his classes who should qualify for the new certificates.

Of the three new certificate program, the welding is the most rigorous. A Welding Certificate of Achievement is awarded to students who complete the 10-credit hour Welding 190 – "Rapid Welding Skills" course. The class meets five days a week for a total of 37.5 hours each week for 15 weeks.

The course covers four major welding processes, plus the related skills of reading welding symbols and blueprints. Students are given an American Welding Society performance certification test for each welding process completed, which validates a welder’s ability to produce a quality weld. Completed welds must pass a visual inspection and a destructive test that verifies how it will perform over time.

"There is flexibility in employment opportunities for folks coming out of here," says Erick Martin, KVCC welding program coordinator. The program teaches a broad skill set so graduates have options as they complete it.  

"The thing about the welding industry is that there are certain processes that give you a higher likelihood of getting a job," Martin says. "We give them as many skills as we can in the different processes so that they’re saleable to the welding employer."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Sources: Howard Carpenter, Erick Martin, and Dawn Kemp, KVCC
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