A tale of two welding careers

This is the second of a 3 part series on the welding profession, industry needs, and the role of career education in preparing the next generation of the workforce. Next in the series will be a discussion about career and technology education.
GRAFTON – Tate Minton has been welding since he was in 8th grade while helping on his family’s farm and ranch near Wray, Colorado.
When it was time to go to college, Minton received an athletic scholarship to attend a university. “When they asked me what I wanted to major in, I said I didn’t know. I just wanted to play football,” said Minton.
Minton grew up in a small town in a rural area and agriculture was all he knew. He really doesn’t remember going to a career fair or conversing with a counselor about what he would do for a living once he finished his education.
Minton chose to study psychology. When he lost his scholarship due to an injury, he had to decide on a program and a skill that was something he liked.
“I liked to weld and so I decided to transfer to Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado, said Minton. He enrolled in the welding associate of arts degree program.  He graduated with their associate’s degree and certifications in SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding), GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) and the Oxyacetylene cutting process.
Since switching his career goal to welding and acquiring his job at Grafton manufacturer Diverse Energy Systems, Minton is happy with his choice. “I came here because they were willing to take someone without experience and give me a chance. I really like being able to see the finished product that I helped build.”
According to Mark Wagner, Director of the North Valley Career and Technology Center (NVCTC), a fundamental goal of career education is to make students aware of career and technical education programs and the opportunities available to them.
“We want career education to be directed at providing all students with career awareness, self-development and career decision-making as an integral part of a student’s educational experience. It is this kind of experience that will help the students to learn, think, consider and make realistic decisions about their opportunities,” said Wagner.
The mentoring and guidance from a former teacher at NVCTC, Kevin Dusek,  made the difference for Joseph Jaster, who struggled with the question of what his career would be beyond high school. “Kevin Dusek was a down-to-earth person and he told us that you’ll get out of the welding class what you put into it,’ said Jaster. “It was the first class in school that I liked and I excelled at it, so here I am.”
Jaster, who is now welding on an Enbridge pipeline in the state of Michigan, is a unionized welder. As a member of the 798 Pipeliners Union, Jaster gets dispatched to union jobs across the country and has worked in Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Louisiana, Oregon, West Virginia, and now, Michigan. Some jobs he acquires on his own, working connections he has made with several experienced crews.

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