LBW, Dorsey Trailer partners for welding apprenticeship

Published 9:15 am Saturday, January 21, 2023

LBW Community College announced a new welding apprenticeship with Dorsey Trailer of Elba in partnership with the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship at its MacArthur campus in Opp Wednesday, Jan. 18.

This work-based learning program will allow students to use skills they develop in class while working in an apprenticeship with Dorsey. Students will have the opportunity to gain significant work-related experience that correlates with their education. Apprentices will have a pay scale that increases as competencies and related instruction goals are met. This will ultimately lead to a full-time employment with Dorsey Trailer when a student completes the apprenticeship.

“Today’s event signified something very special when it comes to partnerships with the community. Dorsey Trailer’s commitment to investing in our LBW students, their future workforce, as well as our community, is a model for every place of business. Having an AOA registered welding apprenticeship is an unbelievable resource for our students and the community,” LBW Director of Workforce Chad Sutton said.

This will be the first apprenticeship for Dorsey since the business was first established in 1911.

“We are excited about offering and have never done anything like this before. It’s been a learning experience for us, but we are excited. We’ve always wanted to reach out to the younger generation and try to build those employees to where they stay with us for a long period of time. That’s the thing we’re most excited about. We want to get them while they’re young and build a culture here at Dorsey,” said Dorsey Vice President Joseph Scott.

Scott spoke to three groups of students about the program at the MacArthur campus Wednesday morning. He shared the benefits the company has and what students can gain from welding as a life skill.

“Students involved in the apprenticeship will be different than our normal employees. They will start their schooling on campus and then come to explore the plant a week later. By eight to 12 weeks, they will have had an opportunity to see the whole plant. A lot of our employees don’t get to do that.”

He feels it is very important for high school students to get insight prior to applying for the apprenticeship. “A lot of kids do not understand what it is like to work in a manufacturing plant because it is different. When they eventually get in the workforce, they won’t be so shocked. We want to get them acclimated to the environment and just bring them along. Hopefully, they like what they see and buy into our culture enough they decide to become part of us,” Scott said.

LBW Welding Instructor Scott Cooper has been at the college for 14 years.

“This will add another employer to our base for our students. Dorsey has been a great workforce as far as jobs over the years. Within the last three years, they have increased their pay and increased their safety. The plant has seen great progress, and this is a great opportunity for the kids to work while they go to school. They can have their school paid for while learning a trade that will never leave them along with earning money. Like all employers statewide, Dorsey finds it hard to find good employees. This is ultimately a win-win for everybody involved, especially our students at LBW Community College.”

The LBW welding program takes approximately 18 months to complete if students first enroll in the summer.

“Our registered apprenticeships impact our community and strengthen our economy by providing a trained and highly qualified workforce that meets the needs of our local employers. This new partnership only strengthens our community and represents Dorsey Trailer’s investment in our students as well as their willingness to create valuable new opportunities for them,” LBW President Dr. Brock Kelley said. “Connecting our students to employment through high-quality work-based learning gives them the ability to earn money while they are learning and allows our employer partners to train within the company.”

Two Andalusia High School dual-enrollment seniors spoke about their choice to pursue welding as a career and what they are looking forward to about the apprenticeship.

“I think the apprenticeship might be a good thing for me because I’m a very hands-on person. I picked up a welding rod for the first time and put it to some metal and fell in love with it. Coming here to LBW for welding and also getting the experience at Dorsey will be a good thing for my career,” Avery Riley stated.

“The apprenticeship will be good for me because I am looking for a way to make money as I’m doing school. I’m a traveler and want to explore a lot of new places. It will be a great opportunity for me to work with Dorsey as well because I love welding,” Mark Hart added.

“The AOA is proud to partner with LBW and Dorsey Trailer with their new Welding Registered Apprenticeship Program. This program meets the needs of business and industry where they are, on the frontlines of workforce by providing opportunities for apprenticeship participants to receive debt-free education, and training in a high demand, high-skill career pathways as they earn while they learn,” said AOA Region 5 and 6 Project Manager Tawanna Robinson.

For more information on LBW apprenticeships and partnerships email Chad Sutton at csutton@lbwcc.edu.

“It’s obvious by looking at Dorsey Trailer’s commitment they are looking to engage students in a career, not just a job,” Sutton said.