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Welding Sparks New Career for Don Conner

Mon Jan 23, 2017 at 06:40 PM

Don ConnerThanks to several grants available at BRCC, Don Conner got his hands on a new career in welding. After 23 years in truck driving, the 51-year-old was ready for a change of pace.

“Raymond (Adult Career Coach) was great. Welding was something I’d always thought of,” Don said. “I’d like to go for all the certifications I can.”

Don’s pursuit of retraining was funded by the Dislocated Worker Program, the Jobs Driven National Emergency Grant, and the Workforce Credentials Grant.

Don was a diesel mechanic in the Navy and had worked in skilled trades at the shipyards in the Tidewater area. Having been employed by government contractors before, he was no stranger to being displaced when the work dried up. He thinks programs that offer career counseling and retraining boost confidence and get people back on track.

“It’s great to feel like a productive member of society again, you know?” he said. “I’m not just walking around wondering what I’m going to do after a layoff.”

Things are looking up as Don was offered a job in welding at Walker Manufacturing Inc. in Harrisonburg, which makes exhaust systems for many different vehicle manufacturers.

“The welding instructors are great,” Don said. “They do not pressure you but they’re very thorough in their instruction. They break you in to the field but make you think about the whole process. They show a variety of different techniques. The small class size and splitting the training into four sections really allowed for individualized attention.”

To learn more about the Dislocated Worker Program, contact Raymond Watson at 540-453-2293.