WITC's welding program helps inmates find work after incarceration

By KBJR News 1

December 23, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 10:15 PM CST

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- School may not be in session at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, but learning through WITC's welding program is still sparking.

The welding room at WITC was filled with the bright flicker of flames as people on probation, parole, or currently incarcerated, took advantage of the Accelerated Welding Program being offered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Employment Program.

"We've been doing these for about five or six years," said welding instructor Dan Wilkinson.

Years of teaching valuable skills that can make all the difference in the lives of participating inmates.

"It's great that they're giving us an opportunity to learn something, because a lot of us don't have skills," said Matthew Sanford, an inmate at the Gordon Correctional Facility.

The intense learning program involves many different styles of welding, to prepare inmates for possible careers after the completion of their sentence.

"We'll bring these guys in for three weeks and there's an employer at the end of it that's agreed to interview them... so that's the big piece of this program... that there's an opportunity," said Wilkinson.

...an opportunity that is paying off for many.

49% of the program's 59 past participants are now working in the area either in a welding capacity or as a general laborer.

"A lot of us never had the opportunity for this and the fact that they're giving us the opportunity means so much," said Sanford.

Accelerated Welding Programs like these are among the most successful community corrections employment programs in the state, providing the spark for success after incarceration.

The current welding class is the fifth Accelerated Welding Program that WITC, NW-CEP, and Wisconsin DOC have partnered on.

Elsa Robins
erobins@kbjr.com

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