The American Welding Society received a $300,000 donation from the Lincoln Electric Co. that will go to helping relieve the nationwide shortage of welders.

In association with this donation, Lincoln and the AWS Foundation will collaborate on new marketing initiatives to promote welding careers and help bolster the ranks of welders.

According to the AWS and other industry research, the average age of a welder is in the mid-50s. Fewer graduates entering the profession, coupled with the continuing retirement of experienced welders, has led to a shortage of skilled welders that could weaken the U.S. manufacturing sector and overall economy, studies suggest.

Lincoln will donate the funds over two years. Lincoln will also contribute marketing support and partner with the society to produce a promotional welding career video to be used online, in classrooms and throughout the industry. The video will feature several well-known personalities who have sponsorship agreements with Lincoln.

In addition, this donation will support the AWS Foundation’s Welder Workforce Development Program. The foundation launched the program in 2006 to recruit and train entry-level welders.

“This generous contribution to our campaign will enable AWS to launch much-needed programs and marketing initiatives toward the promotion of welding careers,” said Ronald C. Pierce, AWS Foundation chairman. “Lincoln Electric has always been a very important partner to AWS, and their continued support helps us build a stronger welding work force for America.”

The AWS Foundation will use this donation to fund new programs and marketing initiatives for the recruitment of welders and promotion of welding careers. In addition, funds will support the foundation’s Solutions Opportunity Squad, which is made up of new society staff. They will also support local AWS sections, businesses and other organizations that have specific work force development needs.

“We are proud to participate in these AWS programs,” said Richard Seif, senior vice president of global marketing for Lincoln Electric and AWS Foundation board trustee. “This campaign is new territory for all of us. We are excited about the direction in which AWS is headed to attract the best and the brightest to the industry and we are particularly impressed with their SOS team. The shortage of welders is one of the most important issues facing our industry. It is absolutely critical that we make motivated, organized and responsible individuals aware that welding is a safe and rewarding career option. We feel the video will also become an important tool since it will give us a way to directly reach those who are looking into new or different career paths.”