Metro Tech, DOC Partnership Brings Trades to Incarcerated Individuals
Metro Tech and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections are celebrating 11 years of empowering inmates through their welding program and paving the way for successful reintegration into society. Together, they’ve created a nine-week Welding course for individuals at the Clara Waters Community Corrections Center in Oklahoma City. Upon graduation and release, the newly certified graduates are ready to enter the workforce and reintegrate into society.
The program established by Metro Tech’s Economic and Workforce Development Department trains up to 52 students annually. Every nine weeks, Monday through Thursday, Aaron Miller, Metro Tech Adjunct Welding Instructor, ventures to the Corrections Center and drives the students to class at the Iron Workers Union Local 48 in South Oklahoma City.
“Confidence is a key learning aspect when you’re someone who has had everything stripped away from you,” Miller said. “For some, they only know how to make money through criminal activity. This program has one of the lowest recidivism rates in Oklahoma. It gives them a trade and confidence to start over and refrain from their old way of life.”
The curriculum structure, designed by the Oklahoma CareerTech System, starts with the fundamentals. Before heading into the shop, they spend five weeks learning proper safety procedures and setting up their equipment. From there, they prepare for their dual-certification test in Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and flux core welding. Nine weeks later, they turn their tassels and enter a new chapter of their lives. However, the opportunities don’t end there.
“We train them for a dual-certification in MIG and flux core because a wide variety of welding manufacturers in Oklahoma City focus on those two practices,” Miller said. “We have a partnership with the Iron Workers Union to accept applications for their apprenticeship program, or they can work for other partnering companies like Alliance Steel and W&W Steel. They also have the option to continue their education or start their own LLC and become a private contractor.”
Upon completing the three-year apprenticeship program at the Iron Workers Union, welders can make upwards of $30 an hour with a pension and a full range of benefits.
“Our partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections provides a second chance for offenders while simultaneously meeting the workforce demand in the Welding industry,” Metro Tech Superintendent Aaron Collins said. “It addresses essential needs within our community and plays a pivotal role in shaping our economic landscape.”
- Press Release
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One of the largest and most diverse technology centers in Oklahoma, Metro Tech has four campuses offering short-term, career and customized business training. Campuses are located in South Oklahoma City, Northeast Oklahoma City, the Will Rogers Airport and Downtown Oklahoma City. www.metrotech.edu
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