Hot demand for welders sparks bidding war in Gulf CoastHot demand for welders sparks bidding war in Gulf Coasthttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/news/newstalk-texas/?Item=26112014-10-31T14:22:00Z2014-10-31T11:30:00Z

HOUSTON - Welders are among a broader group of skilled construction workers who have become a hot commodity on the Gulf Coast, home to much of the $125 billion in chemical plant construction and expansion underway in the U.S.

It's not uncommon for top welders to earn six-figure salaries, factoring in overtime, and entry-level workers can earn $40,000 a year or more after just a few months of training.

"There's no such thing as an unemployed welder," said J.D. Taliaferro, who helps oversee the welding program at San Jacinto College, where demand is so high that the school is looking to add 60 more welding training booths to the 118 it has now. Nighttime classes are full, and the community college recently added a 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. section.

A report earlier this year from Sugar Land-based market intelligence firm Industrial Info Resources forecast that the number of skilled construction workers in the Gulf Coast region will grow from around 62,000 today to more than 103,000 by 2016, driven largely by demand from the petrochemical surge.

"Right now, you're starting to see a bidding war for welders," said Bryan Edwards, assistant business manager at the Pipefitters Local 211 union. In addition to rising hourly wages, contractors are offering welders increasing per diems — tax-free living expenses — that can approach $120 cash per day when previously $50 was common, Edwards said.

There is the question of how long the employment boom for welders will last.

Nobody is certain, especially because many assume some of the projects on the docket today will eventually be scrapped. Even if that happens, companies will need workers to maintain the facilities they build.

Houston Chronicle
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Work-and-training-join-to-meet-hot-demand-for-5846863.php#/0Read more at {Source}

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