Welding students awarded apprenticeships

PORT ANGELES — Four second-year Peninsula College welding students received apprenticeships after undergoing the rigors of a process called “Hell Day” with the Local 86 Ironworkers Union in Seattle.

The students learned last month they had been accepted into in a boot camp-style “Hell Day,” where the organization pits applicants against each other to gain admittance into the Ironworkers’ four-year degree/apprenticeship program. All participating students are paid $25 per hour or more to sit the apprenticeship class.

“Welding is huge in this field of work, and it’s not uncommon for first-year apprentices to go out and make up to $90,000 in their first year of their apprenticeship while still attending classes one month of the year,” said Eoin Doherty, coordinator and instructor for the Peninsula College welding program.

At the end of June, the college’s recent welding program graduates were notified that all four had passed their trials and would begin work the following Monday. Two of the students, Samuel Gomez and Devin Voyles, are from Forks, Zachary Batanian hails from Gig Harbor, and Port Angeles’ Raymond Carmichael rounded out the group.

Suzanne Robertson, Peninsula College’s afternoon first-year instructor and a former Ironworker herself, has been instrumental in helping to direct students into Local 86, she and helped set up a training table in the welding lab for the students to tie re-bar, ornamental steel and structural while preparing for “Hell Day.”

“In the Local 86 union meeting that I attended via Zoom, it was mentioned that there is a great need for apprentices now and in the foreseeable future, especially women and minorities,” Robertson said.

Peninsula College’s program has integrated new processes such as “Innershield” welding into its curriculum, so students are versed before they join the union. It is not uncommon for welders to make up $50 an hour plus benefits in these companies, particularly if they are up welding at great heights, Doherty said.

“Whether it is structural steel or ship repair, we have the knowledge and experience here at PC welding to direct potential students in the right direction,” Doherty said.

Learn more about Local 86’s “Hell Day” experience by visiting https://bit.ly/3gW9B6S.

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