A tour devoted to highlighting the benefits of blue-collar trades across the country made a stop in Livingston Parish in January.
Live Oak High School was one of the 27 stops on the 2023 Blue Collar Tour that Western Welding Academy in Gillette, Wyoming puts on each year.
The tour stops in a state for about five or six hours and instructors speak with kids about welding opportunities and provide welding demonstrations. Instructors also allow the students to participate in some of the demonstrations.
“The blue-collar industry is in a big deficit with computer technology and artificial intelligence,” said Tyler Sasse, owner, and founder of Western Welding Academy. “We’re on the precipice of a whole new world when it comes to technology. A lot of these white-collar positions are fading fast because artificial intelligence is taking over. What we don’t want to end up as a nation and as a country, we don’t want to end up in a position where we have a whole bunch of people who can’t compete because America competes on a global scale.”
Welding is popular trade at Live Oak, according to the school’s welding instructor Billy Doiron. He said there are six welding classes with 125 students at the school.
“It’s in high demand,” he stated. “Industries are requiring a lot of welders and we have industry sponsors such as performance contractors that sponsor our class, put students to work once they’re complete and it’s a class that many many students are interested in and want to be part of.”
From a student’s perspective, learning welding in high school gives them a jump in what is a competitive workforce.
“It’s given me a huge head start,” said Live Oak student Chandler. “There are guys who I was going to night class with who are in their late 20s, almost 30 years old, they’re still trying to get their certifications or they’re just now learning it. At 17, I’ve gotten a little experience and a certification, it’s definitely going to help me out when I graduate looking for a job.”
Another Live Oak student views his welds as art.
“It makes the metal stick but at the same time, it’s my art piece,” Bryce said. “When I look at my finished weld and I see the cap on the end, I want to look back and go, ‘man, that’s pretty.’ It’s hard. It takes a lot of finesse and a lot of skill. Not anybody can just walk in and make a weld look pretty. It takes a lot of perseverance to want to do it and people who want to do it and make it an art and look at it as an art instead of a job or work. It makes it a lot more enjoyable.”
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