HESPERIA— Knowing that welders continue to be in high demand, the owner of Valew Quality Truck Bodies recently honored three Apple Valley High School seniors with scholarships to further their education in the welding industry.
In May, seniors Kyle Malcolm, Luis Reuteler and Sean Westlake each earned a scholarship from VALEW after they completed a four-year welding program under the instruction of AVHS teacher Casey Penfold, said Valew spokesperson Patricia Pollard.
For each of the last five years, the Hesperia based Valew has provided scholarships to at least five seniors that have completed Penfold’s welding program.
“Valew Quality Truck Bodies is a fourth-generation family-owned company that believes that the world needs doctors and lawyers but also needs welders and laborers just as well,” Pollard said. “We are proud of the three students for completing the program and have given each $1,500 to further their journey post-high school.”
Penfold’s class is part of the school’s Career Technical Education program that provides students with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and to become lifelong learners, according to the AVHS website.
CTE readies students to enter the workforce by introducing them to workplace competencies and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a hands-on context.
CTE also offers training based upon current and future labor market demands. CTE programs are focused on industry sectors where there is proven local industry demand and sufficient student interest and need.
Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the need for welders is expected to grow by 26% by 2020, making welding one of the fastest-growing professions in America, according to the Houston Chronicle.
With the welding shortage reaching a deficit of 400,000 workers by 2024 due to older welders reaching retirement age, younger welders need to be ready to replace the aging workforce. The average age of a welder is 55, according to the America Welding Society.
Classes at AVHS are a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training taught by qualified professionals from the industry who are credentialed through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to teach in their areas of expertise.
Hayes operates the family-owned company that was founded in 1954 and manufactures mainly truck bodies. Nearly 30 years ago at age 25, Hayes took over the family business and grew the company from 11 to more than 250 employees.
With his daughter and nephew working for the company, Hayes said he’s proud of what the fourth-generation family-owned business has accomplished over the years, including helping the next generation of welders.
In 2018, Valew took home the Industrial Manufacturing Entrepreneur award during the 16th annual Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards ceremony, which recognizes individuals and businesses throughout the Inland Empire, the Daily Press reported.
The Awards are presented to businesses that best exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship, which include job creation, building a successful enterprise and risk-taking.
Reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
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