iluna@valleytowncrier.com

EDINBURG - A new facility in Edinburg is now home to the South Texas’ Welding School owned by Edinburg native, Juan Zavedra. The new school will teach, train and prepare students across the RGV with hands-on training to become certified welders - an occupation short of qualified workers.

Edinburg Mayor, Richard Molina, council members, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and EDC board members were in attendance supporting and sharing the purpose of the new facility.

“It’s about catering to what people want and that is what we’re doing here today,” said Mayor Molina.

Molina shared five years of research on skilled trade occupations of welders and electricians from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

“Welders, electricians and other skilled-trade workers are very hard to find,” said Molina. “Seventy percent construction companies nationwide are struggling to find qualified workers and these are good-paying jobs.”

Data showed a job in the welding industry pays up to $45,000 to $100,000 annually, the equivalent to a philosophy instructor. About 30 million jobs in the U.S. do not require a bachelor's degree.

According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), results showed only eight percent of undergraduates are enrolled in certificate programs.

“We need for our workforce to work, therefore we need other options for the future,” said Molina. “We have an incredible university here in Edinburg that we are very proud of, but that four-year track may not be for everybody.”

The groundbreaking ceremony marked the next generation of skilled trade workers and will serve as a different career option.

Supporting the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mayor Pro-Tem, David Torres shared the high demands the industry requires.

“This hits close to heart for me because I have family in this industry and I know this industry very well,” said Torres. “I have my son and son-in-law...they’re in the welding industry right now and I know what this can do. What the mayor said was exactly true, there’s a lot of work, whether it’s up north, in Brownsville with the ports, SpaceX - there’s a lot of work out there for this and the numbers are very accurate.”

The owner of the new welding school is Edinburg native, Juan Zavedra.

“I thank everybody for making it happen, we know it was not easy but again we thank God for working through it...thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to come to Edinburg,” said Zavedra thanking Edinburg city officials.

The school will offer classes in: stick welding, heliarc welding, structural welding, flux core welding, stainless steel welding, uphill pipe welding, downhill pipe welding and combination welding. Scholarships will be offered to Edinburg residents and other available funds can be awarded through Texas Workforce Commission and for migrant/farm workers.