While manufacturers bemoan a lack of skilled potential employees, and returning veterans experience frustration at being able to find employment, one organization— Workshop for Warriors—has found a way to combine the two groups for a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Fig. 1 – Laser engraving the Workshops for Warriors logo.
In December, the newest graduates of the program, made up of newly minted CNC machinists, CAD/CAM programmers, and welders made up the largest graduating class yet at the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which provides a free 16-month training program in welding and fabrication for veterans transitioning into civilian life.

Graduates are placed at manufacturing companies large and small, many of them in San Diego, a manufacturing hub where these skills are in high demand.

Workshops for Warriors is helping to rebuild America’s advanced manufacturing workforce by preparing veterans and wounded warriors for advanced manufacturing careers, to meet the strong demand for skilled labor in the welding and fabricating industries. (See Figure 1)

Founder Hernàn Luis y Prado, explains, “After serving in the Navy for 15 years with combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, I saw more of my fellow service members die of suicide and drugs in San Diego than die from bombs and bullets in Baghdad. I needed to change that, so we created Workshops for Warriors.”

Workshops for Warriors offers two primary tracks of training: welding and machining. After choosing a track, students embark upon a 16-month program, with approximately 112 hours per course. Manufacturing courses are offered in:

  • Computer-aided manufacturing
  • Computer-aided design
  • Machinery repair and maintenance
  • CNC and manual machining and turning
  • Welding and fabrication

Since 2011, the organization has trained nearly 200 veterans every one of them has received a job offer after graduation, in careers such as CAD/CAM, CNC machining, welding, fabrication, and machinery repair. By completing a full program, veterans will receive credentials in welding, machining, and fabrication from these industry-accrediting bodies: the American Welding Society, National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Mastercam University, and SolidWorks.

Miyachi America Corporation, Monrovia, CA, a leading manufacturer of welding, marking, cutting, and micro machining equipment and systems, donated an LMF2000 fiber laser marker along with related safety equipment, while Technimark, one of Miyachi’s suppliers, donated a fume extractor for the equipment, and Directed Light, Inc., donated laser safety glasses.

Since 2011, 238 veterans and wounded warriors have been trained on-site and received close to 600 third-party nationally recognized credentials, with 100 percent of graduates obtaining jobs in advanced manufacturing. Spring classes began January 4, 2016.

For more information, visit https://workshopsforwarriors.org/foremployers .