Jefferson State welding students took not only first place but second place as well in a recent national welding competition in Cleveland.
The welders—Champion Payton Schmitt and runner-up Clayton Womack—earned monetary rewards along with the recognition of being among the country’s best at their skilled trade. A third Jefferson State welder, Doug Diaz, was also among the 14 finalists in the competition.
Watch the competition here.
Schmitt graduated from the University of Alabama with a four-year business degree, only to discover he couldn’t find a job he was passionate about pursuing as a career. He decided to enroll at Jefferson State to learn welding after his dad bought him a welder for their garage. He’s now discovered a career path that is lucrative and fulfilling. He’s still completing his welding school training while working part-time as a welder.
The 26-year-old worked his way through qualifying competitions to arrive at the national welding competition in Cleveland, hosted at Lincoln Electric headquarters. The competition showcased Schmitt’s welding prowess over 13 other students from across the country while under the eyes of expert judges from Lincoln Electric, Osborn, and Weld Like A Girl; plus, sponsors from the Department of Defense, and the production crew filming Clash of Trades Episode 2.
Project MFG hosts competitions for students and then premiers them on their YouTube channel. It is a Department of Defense-funded competition as it feels this potential gap in the workforce becomes a national security issue.
The competition results have been under wraps for several weeks as editors skillfully put the footage together to create a 50-minute competition reality show from the 270 minutes of total competition time where students tested their welding capabilities in theory, virtually, and in hands-on application using multiple welding processes.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Industrial Base and Sustainment Program supports Project MFG and their creation of “Clash of Trades” reality show that intends to change the perception of the skilled trades by highlighting trade skill competitions, the stories of individuals entering the field and the future-focused work of the U.S. manufacturing industry.
Project MFG competitions and “Clash of Trades” began, in part, because studies show the manufacturing industry is experiencing exponential change and new technologies are not eliminating jobs as some predicted. Studies have found the reverse – more jobs are being created (2018 skills gap in manufacturing study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute). The skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades. The U.S. Department of Defense declared this deficit as one of the most vital challenges for the U.S. defense industrial base.