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In San Diego alone, more than 40,000 veterans transition out of the service every year. Throughout its history WFW has remained committed to providing training free of charge to veterans who do not have access to living wage jobs due to multiple barriers. U.S. veterans often face challenges as they transition to civilian life, including significant barriers to civilian employment. This contributes to their exceptionally high suicide rate—twice that of the general population, according to a 2015 study by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Meanwhile, a 2014 study by Accenture and The Manufacturing Institute showed that half of U.S. manufacturers expect to increase production in the next five years; however, the current shortage of skilled U.S. workers will significantly increase production costs.
Workshops for Warriors is directly addressing both of these challenges. We provide veterans and transitioning services members with advanced manufacturing training and industry-recognized certification for careers in welding, machining, and fabrication at no cost to the veteran.
Workshops for Warriors is already making significant, lasting improvements— and we are building a better, stronger future for veterans, their families, and the U.S. economy.
- Reduced unemployment for veterans.
- Meeting U.S. market demand for more trained, certified manufacturing workers.
- Enhancing economic stability in the San Diego region.
- Supporting growth of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
- More veterans successfully transitioning to civilian life—with hope and a renewed purpose through a secure civilian career path.
WFW’s current seat capacity is 60 students per semester. Construction of a one acre campus with multiple training centers will allow us to graduate at least 750 students per year and make a dent in the nation’s advanced manufacturing skills gap. A large waiting list of veterans in San Diego County wants to help America’s manufacturing industry thrive again; they also want to become middle-class taxpayers.
Do You Want to See More Jobs Going Overseas or Do You Want to Contribute to Strengthening the American Middle-Class Family?
A recent study estimates that an average US manufacturer can lose 11 percent of its annual earnings (EBITDA) for $3,000 per existing employee due to this talent shortage. Another study paints weaker picture: a loss of an average $14,000 per unfilled position.
According to a 2015 Ford Foundation report, more than 2.3 million advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States are unfilled in part because, society thought a bachelors degree was the only path to financial success. As American companies become more service-based, manufacturing jobs were sent overseas. High schools and junior colleges closed vocational training programs that were the gateway to respectable middle-class manufacturing careers. And over the next decade an estimated 2.7 million baby boomers will retire from this field.
Thanks to technological advancements, manufacturing in the United States is no longer a dirty and dangerous job without career progression, but instead is a pathway to the respected clean, safe, and high-tech STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) workforce of the future.
In the U.S. shipbuilding industry, the largest shortfall of labor is among welders, followed by fabricators. According to Amanda Brooks, Public Works Officer at NAVFAC SE, “We are losing the ability to do work in the United States. If we can’t get parts manufactured, then ships will be decommissioned.”
Members of the military develop high-value character traits, such as leadership, commitment, and teamwork, that many college graduates are not fortunate enough to learn. Even after just a few years in the service, these character traits are embedded for life. Imagine how much more productive a shipyard, factory floor, or a construction site would be with a team of skilled workers with this mindset.
We Seek to Imbue the Warrior’s Character in U.S. Manufacturing
Workshops for Warriors is the only 501(c)(3)-accredited nonprofit organization in the U.S. providing veterans with accelerated training, certification, and job placement in advanced manufacturing careers, at no cost to the veteran. We are six years into an eight year application process to become a GI Bill approved institution, which would then nearly cover all program expenses and allow us to use generous donations for scholarships for students with no remaining GI Bill benefits, research and expansion.
We offer two primary tracks of training, both taught by veterans: welding and machining. After choosing a track, students can take a 4, 8, 12, or 16-month program. Those with only the minimum of four months and one nationally-recognized certification are literally walking across the street to shipyards and gaining full-time employment at $15 an hour. Those embarking upon our full 16-month program, typically gain entry-level jobs at $25 an hour.
A proven path into a rewarding career can eliminate problems like unemployment, homelessness, broken families, and suicide. In addition to the hard technical skills our students are also learning soft skills such as attitude, communication, work ethic, teamwork, time management, problem-solving, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.
Creating America’s Manufacturing’s Force
Help us ensure the futures of America’s veterans, wounded warriors, and the growth of U.S. manufacturing by building our headquarters for advanced manufacturing training center. Completion of this new training center in a HUB-Zone in San Diego will have rapid impact on filling the open advanced manufacturing jobs in this community and it is just the beginning,” according to Luis y Prado. “We are already recognized as the largest producer of certified welders and machinists in the Southwest. We’re not even making a dent in the unfilled positions from our small 5,000 square-foot facility in San Diego, but a much larger training center will help us do that. We want to build the preeminent training pipeline, which will allow us to expand and generate national impact.” Manufacturers and military bases across the country are offering to support us in building smaller training centers in areas where a high concentration of transitioning service members coupled with demand for a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce.
In addition to continuing to train local veterans, our new San Diego headquarters will become the train-the-trainer site for our network of advanced manufacturing schools. “We will always need welders and fabricators as we know them today, but the future of advanced manufacturing will exploit machines, not people. Today we train veterans to make products, but tomorrow we will train them to train robots to make products. Thanks to our collaboration with industry, trade associations, and our proximity to military bases and the Bio-Tech sector in San Diego, our new center will remain on the cutting edge of technology”, explained Luis y Prado.
According to the most recent skills gap report from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, ‘we are at an inflection point that must be addressed in order to ensure viability and success of American-based operations as well as the nation’s economic prosperity as a whole.’
San Diego is home to one of the largest populations of veterans nationwide. In recent years this has included a growing number of low-income, unemployed and under-employed men and women who lack career-relevant training and preparation to compete in the modern job market. The direct results of this deficiency (thousands of homeless veterans and thousands more living below the poverty line) are a blemish on San Diego’s long and proud history as a military city. This is happening in cities across our nation but it is fixable with the expansion of Workshops for Warriors.
San Diego military leadership has acknowledged that they need to do a better job of preparing service members for transition to civilian life. A pilot program was launched in 2015 where 25 active duty Marines from Camp Pendleton began taking welding classes at Workshops for Warriors six months prior to transitioning out of the service. Unlike the majority of their peers, they all had job offers in a variety of cities before they left the service.
This $15 million project will have two phases in order to increase graduation numbers. Our goal is to quickly raise $4 million to construct a two-story, 30,000 sq. ft. LEED Gold Certified, steel building, complete the build out, and FF&E (furniture, fixtures, & equipment). This construction could be completed in 12-18 months. The expansive open first floor will consist of five machine labs with two 5,000-pound capacity bridge cranes. The second floor includes 11 classrooms, a job counseling/hiring center, and a student lounge/café. Restrooms will be on all floors. The final phase of $9 million will include renovation of the existing property including new classroom buildings, a warehouse, yard, the administrative offices, instructor training lab, land acquisition and parking.
You Can Help Fulfill Our Obligation to Those Who Served
This is the current reality of our veteran students:
- 35% receive EDD benefits
- 68% receive disability benefits
- 60% are unemployed or underemployed
- 26% are in temporary, insecure housing situations
The problem of veteran unemployment does not have easy, short-term solutions. Investing in skills development programs that can address this challenge. WFW is uniquely positioned to expand proven innovative techniques to give veterans marketable employment that will allow them build careers and families. Our program helps manufacturers to collaborate with schools and to find outstanding technical workers with proven character and the skills manufacturers need.