New grant could help sparks fly in Crenshaw Co. and beyond - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

New grant could help sparks fly in Crenshaw Co. and beyond

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CRENSHAW CO., AL (WSFA) -

Jeremy May and Chase Mothershed may've found the spark to pursue a lucrative future. The students at Highland Home School can thank the 21st Century Workforce Act, passed last year by the Alabama legislature.

"It's to enhance our career technical program throughout the state," said Crenshaw County School Superintendent Randy Wilkes.

Wilkes says the money will be used to start up a formal three-year welding curriculum. It will be offered to students in 9th through 12th grades. The details are still being worked out in terms of logistics.

This is so much more than piecing together a new technical program. It's all about meeting a demand.

"We have three Hyundai suppliers in Crenshaw County such as SMART and they all need welders," said Wilkes.

A certified welder fresh out of high school could start out earning $25,000, "And if you're good enough you could earn as much as $100,000 a year," Wilkes adds.

"That's pretty good," Mothershed admits.

Beyond Crenshaw County, the state's Labor Department says there will be a demand for welders for the entire state to at least 2020. Right now, in fact, there is an urgent need for 1,000 welders in Mobile because of the new steel plant going up and Airbus.

"This will improve our skills and help us get better jobs," said May, a freshman at Highland Home School.

The new curriculum is becoming an easy sell for Peggy Dubose, the Career Coach for the Crenshaw County school district. "We have so many people interested in the field already," she explains.

The groundwork is being laid to get the welding program rolling in Crenshaw County. The goal is to get it up and running by the fall.

Until then, May and Mothershed keeping firing up their interests in what they consider a work of art with the torch.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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