Hudson County Community College (HCCC) was selected from a highly competitive field of community colleges across the United States to receive $100,000 for education that will transform the future of individuals and communities.
HCCC is one of only ten community colleges nationwide to be named to Cohort 4 of the Metallica Scholars Initiative. As a recipient, the college will provide training and a path to certification in welding for previously incarcerated individuals. The life-changing HCCC program is offered in partnership with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation and the Governor’s Reentry Training and Employment Center in Kearny.
Funding from the Metallica Scholars Initiative provides students with tuition, textbooks, materials, OSHA training,10 supplies, helmets, goggles, jackets and exam fees for American Welding Society certification. Scholars also receive support from Hudson County Community College’s student success coaches, as well as tutoring, case management, financial services, grocery delivery, and other basic needs beyond the classroom.
“Education and certification in welding, an in-demand, high-paying profession, will be a game changer for these students as they strive to overcome a multitude of obstacles and secure a bright future,” said HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber. “We are very proud to have been selected for this select cohort and appreciate the opportunity to offer the students and their families a lifeline to a bright future. This training will prepare a much-needed workforce for our community.”
Since founding the Metallica Scholars Initiative in 2019, the All Within My Hands (AWMH) Foundation has partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to directly support career and technical education programs across the United States. The Metallica Scholars Initiative has evolved from a concept into a strategic and thriving educational priority focused on improving skills and supporting students who wish to enter a traditional craft or other applied learning program and has a proven and measurable impact effect achieved. AWMH continues to replicate the program by adding the ten colleges in Cohort 4 to the list and investing $1.8 million in expansion.
“Our goal for the Metallica Scholars initiative is to shine a light on workforce education and empower the next generation of artisans. With the addition of the 2022-23 Metallica Scholars program, our scholarships will reach over 2,000 men and women at 32 community colleges in 27 states,” said Pete Delgrosso, executive director of All Within My Hands. “We are honored to support these students of all ages and backgrounds and look forward to expanding the program even further in the future.”
Almost every industry in New Jersey depends on the construction sector for physical growth. Welding is key to the success of many construction and fabrication projects. The trade requires fresh and professionally trained talent as current welders are retiring from the field. The American Welding Society reports that by 2025 the United States will face a shortage of more than 400,000 welding professionals.
Hudson County Community College launched its first welding course as an elective in the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Associate Degree Program in spring 2022. Due to demand, HCCC has also developed a non-credit version of the course that includes basic welding skills with preparation for the American Welding Society-accredited Certified Welder Test. The course introduces students to the basics of welding and provides opportunities for training in shielded gas and tungsten inert gas welding.
The 10-week HCCC Welding course is delivered in person at the Governor’s Reentry Training and Employment Center in Kearny, where New Jersey Reentry Corporation has invested in a newly constructed, state-of-the-art welding laboratory designed in conjunction with the American Welding Society and HCCC. Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students each.
In addition, said Dr. Reber said the college has contacted employers in the area who have expressed interest in hiring students who have earned certified welding certification.
“The impact on welding graduates will be significant and transformative,” said Dr. Reber. “We are grateful to All Within My Hands and the American Association of Community Colleges, and look forward to working with our many community partners to ensure the success and sustainability of this program.”