JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was in Jacksonville on Tuesday to tour Tulsa Welding School on the Southside.
Rubio, R-Fla., decided to view a program that fits into the American Dream Accounts Act passed in the last Congress. Rubio believes the Act makes programs like the one at Tulsa Welding School easier and more affordable for students.
Rubio says it’s vital to encourage training in skilled labor before the workforce shortage becomes a crisis.
In a year, about 800 workers will go through training at the Tulsa Welding School's Jacksonville campus, which is one of four locations across the country. Rubio says vocational training is a priority in the United States once again.
"For a long time, we kind of told young people in America that's what you do if you can't get into college. And now, we see we have these critical shortages in these types of jobs -- welding, pipe fitting, other industrial type jobs -- and they pay well," he said. "We want to see more opportunities for young Americans to find dignified work.”
Tulsa Welding School has diploma programs that range between seven and 10 months. Overall, 65 percent of the students graduate, with 84 percent finding employment in the industry. Results in training workers is an issue both sides of the aisle can work on.
"It allows us to go out and say, 'Look, there are places -- real places -- with real people. We can show you where it is. We can tell you what the experience has been as a way to incentivize and provide better opportunities for people to access this kind of education -- whether it's financial aid -- but even having the capacity, you know, we're going to have a critical shortage of welders and pipe fitters. America is going to need them,'" Rubio said.
Last Congress, the senator was able to pass the American Dream Accounts Act, which will make access to programs, like the ones at Tulsa Welding School easier and more affordable for students while also creating web portals that can help students better achieve their goals and gain access to these kinds of programs.