Back

Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Breaks Ground on New Welding Lab

By Colin McEvoy on March 15, 2019

Welding Technology students Jordan Everett (left) and Bradley Gardner (second from left) participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking for LCTI's new Welding Technology Center with their teachers Brad Brandmeir (second from right) and Thomas Uff. (photo courtesy LCTI)

Welding Technology students Jordan Everett (left) and Bradley Gardner (second from left) participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking for LCTI’s new Welding Technology Center with their teachers Brad Brandmeir (second from right) and Thomas Uff. (photo courtesy LCTI)

The Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI) celebrated the groundbreaking of a new welding lab this week, a project officials say will provide hands-on training for the Lehigh Valley’s students and provide a pipeline of talented workers for the region’s employers.

“Our mission is workforce development,” LCTI Executive Director Thomas J. Rushton said on March 14 to a crowd of more than 100 people at the North Whitehall Township campus. “LCTI’s new welding lab will allow us to provide our students with the most advanced training in an optimal environment that will serve the Lehigh Valley for many years to come.”

At 12,000 square feet, the new space will be twice the size of LCTI’s current program lab, and provide room for one of the school’s most popular programs to grow, he said. It is expected to begin welcoming students in the fall of 2020.

A rendering of the new welding lab. (image courtesy LCTI)

A rendering of the new welding lab. (image courtesy LCTI)

It will have 40 welding booths – 11 more than LCTI’s current program lab – and 10 workstations that will allow 50 students to weld simultaneously. The lab will allow LCTI to serve more students and evolve its program to include training with automated welding technologies, Rushton said.

“Welders build the world we live in,” he said. “From cars to high rise office buildings, airplanes to rockets, pipelines to highways, none of it would be possible without welding. Driven by requirements, infrastructure needs, and advancing technologies, demand for this trade is high and will remain that way in the future.

A $4.25 million investment, the new facility is the culmination of more than two years of planning and design, first conceived after a tour of the existing lab and discussion with faculty about their existing space and future needs, Rushton said.

According to the American Welding Society, there will be a shortage of 400,000 operators by the year 2024. In the Lehigh Valley, it is projected there will be a demand for 390 welders over the next five years as a result of retirements, career changes, or new positions.

“Today’s rapidly evolving world of innovation and technological development is creating a demand for new vocational and technical skills,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, who was recognized at LCTI’s groundbreaking event.

“We are fortunate to have fantastic vocational and technical schools in the Lehigh Valley who are helping prepare our students with the skills that local employers need within the technical trades,” Gelinas said.

Expanded to an area within a 45-minute drive of the Lehigh Valley, the demand for welders rises to 670, Gelinas said. There are currently 720 welders in the Lehigh Valley, with 390 in Lehigh County and 330 in Northampton County.

Other schools in the region have expanded their welding programs in recent years as well. The Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School unveiled a new welding lab in August in response to increased enrollment and the demands of the labor market.

LCTI is Pennsylvania’s largest career and technical school, offering more than 45 skills-based programs of study and academic instruction for about 2,700 students from grades 9 to 12 from Lehigh County’s nine public school districts, as well The facility also offers industry-relevant training and credentials for working adults.

Eileen Cipriani, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, was among the speakers at the groundbreaking. She praised the new lab as in keeping with Gov. Tom Wolf’s investments in job training and education initiatives.

“Pennsylvania’s economic future depends on a well-educated and highly-trained workforce,” Cipriani said. “The expansion of LCTI’s welding program will give students hands-on training for a creer or to continue their education.”

Cipriani highlighted Wolf’s Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program, which she said expands early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector to build on the PAsmart workforce development initiative.

She also highlighted the governor’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center, which expands the collaboration between government and the private sector to address the skills gap and worker shortages.

LVEDC Thanks Its Investors for a Record-Breaking Year

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) wants to make sure everyone knows how grateful we are to our investors for making 2018 the third consecutive yea[...]

Continue to Next Page

Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$40.1 Billion

Gross Domestic Product

Investor Spotlight
City Center Lehigh Valley
Industry Spotlight

11% of Labor Force
Employed in Manufacturing

By the Numbers
$3.65 Billion

Exports

Investor Spotlight
Air Products
By the Numbers
$62,489

Median Household Income

Investor Spotlight
PPL Electric Utilities
By the Numbers
26,000

New Jobs Created Over Past 5 Years

By the Numbers
669,899

Population

Investor Spotlight
Olympus
By the Numbers
345,260

Labor Force

Investor Spotlight
Lutron Electronics
Industry Spotlight

26.1% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

By the Numbers
5,073

Technology Patents

Investor Spotlight
Mack Trucks
Investor Spotlight
UGI
Investor Spotlight
NFI
Industry Spotlight

14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

By the Numbers
$7.4 Billion

Manufacturing Contribution to GDP

Investor Spotlight
BB&T
Industry Spotlight

69th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population

Investor Spotlight
Seedcopa
Industry Spotlight

10,328 degrees awarded by colleges and universities

Investor Spotlight
Fuling
Industry Spotlight

81,000 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

By the Numbers
26.97%

Population between ages 18 and 34

Investor Spotlight
Workforce Board