The American Welding Society projects a shortage of more than 200,000 welders in the near future as Baby Boomers gear up for retirement. But the Boy Scouts of America is jumping into action to bridge that gap by introducing new generations to the skill in a unique way.
Created three years ago, the BSA’s welding merit badge is helping to spark interest in a field that might otherwise be forgotten to most Scouts. The merit badge takes a hands-on approach to teaching Scouts the skill and helps overcome the initial hesitation of working with fire.
The Stonewall Jackson Area Council introduced 40 middle school-aged Boy Scouts to welding at Camp Shenandoah’s Welding Facility this past week and the torches weren’t the only ones fired up – the Scouts were, too.
“It’s awesome,” shared a Scout. “It’s by far the funnest merit badge I’ve ever done.”
Sure, melting through solid steel and blazing your name in metal is fun, but welding is also a skill with a big payoff in the future. And now thanks to the camp’s successful summer season, 200 Scouts can consider taking on the career with know-how and enthusiasm.
“Having representatives from U.S. Senators Warner and Kaine’s office allow us to highlight the positive impacts of the merit badge program as a tool for workforce development,” explained Assistant Scout Executive Michael Hesbach. “The 200 Scouts that earned the welding merit badge have a baseline knowledge to help them choose a potential career, and this process is repeat across the 136 different Merit Badges the BSA offers.”
Check out NBC29’s video below to get the full scoop on how this merit badge is igniting a passion for the trade.