Berkeley Electric Cooperative helped make the future a little brighter for local students today with a $15,000 donation to the Berkeley County School District’s welding program. Now in its second year, the new CTE program offers 16 dedicated welding bays at Timberland High School and an additional 12 bays at Cross High. In addition to helping launch the program last year, Berkeley Electric has pledged to support it for a total of four years.
The program was created last year as a partnership with Berkeley County Government and the Berkeley County School District in response to the increased demand for certified welders in the Lowcountry. Part of this demand was due to W International, a full-service welded metal fabrication company, opening a new location in Bushy Park and expanding its workforce from 50 to around 600.
“Although we do not serve W International directly, the cooperative saw this as an opportunity to invest in the future of its members,” said Tony Vincent, vice president of marketing and government affairs. “These programs will give our members a better chance at securing well-paid jobs that are in high demand right here in the Lowcountry,” he said.
With the support of Berkeley Electric, the school district will also be able to offer night classes to adults at both locations, in addition to the student programs. Upon completion of the 14-week course focused on MIG-welding techniques, adult participants will be qualified to sit for a Level 1 welding certification test. This is similar to a program offered by Trident Technical College but this is the first time that the Berkeley County School District’s Adult Education department has offered a course focused on trade skills. Berkeley Electric has previously partnered with Cross High School to help certify students as fork-lift operators.