Airgas donates to Lima Senior

LIMA — Lima Senior was one of 16 schools selected for support from Airgas. Airgas will provide approximately $10,000 in material donations as well as educational support throughout the coming school year. Airgas associates will work alongside teachers and school officials to provide a comprehensive welding training program, preparing students for successful careers in the welding industry.

Airgas district manager Chris Bimer, noting that the average age of a welder is 57 said, “That is the reason why Airgas put this program together. We’re recognizing a need. We’re trying to change that stigma that you have to go to college for four years to be successful. There is a need for these kids to have these welding certifications when they graduate because that is what employers are really looking for. These qualifications get them in the door, on the job quickly. They can walk in and say, ‘I have passed all these qualifications already.’”

Dustin Clayton, welding instructor, shared the importance of this donation, “Our welding expenses are far beyond any of the other career tech areas. So this program will cut their school fees by somewhere in the neighborhood of $400. This donation is significantly going to help our students. Student fees in welding are very expensive.”

Lima Senior will receive hands-on professional development, welding consumables and equipment, as well as safety gear for students.

Bimer summarized the program, “We just want people to realize that there are many job openings available in welding and metal fabrication. Lima Senior has a very strong program here. And for us to be able to partner with them and maybe help some students who might be on the fence about whether to get into this or not due to financial constraints. We hope this will help them to make the decision to jump in.”

According to the American Welding Society, there are 336,000 new welding professionals needed by 2026 with an average of 84,000 welding jobs to be filled annually between 2022 and 2025. Since the beginning of the program in 2018, Airgas has assisted 70 schools, nearly 2,700 welding students and more than 350 teachers.

Dean Brown joined The Lima News in 2022 as a reporter. Prior to The Lima News, Brown was an English teacher in Allen County for 38 years, with stops at Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Heir Force Community School. So they figured he could throw a few sentences together about education and business in the area. An award-winning photographer, Brown likes watching old black and white movies, his dog, his wife and kids, and the four grandkids - not necessarily in that order. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0409.