Women in Welding

Women can do anything, even what men typically do. This is the message that Rhonda Lassen Cain wants her sixteen-year-old daughter Kayla Lassen to learn.

Over the summer Kayla got the idea in her head that she wanted to try welding during her sophomore year at Lorain County JVS. Her Mom was on board one hundred percent. “I told my Mom that I wanted to try out welding and she was like, go for it! The first day in the lab, it was like boom, I liked it,” Kayla excitedly shared.

Kayla, who attended the JVS her freshman year, based on the recommendation of her brother who graduated from the computerized design and drafting program, spent the first quarter of the 2018/19 school year in the welding lab and excelled at great speed.

Career Exploration students, those in the 10th grade, have the opportunity to shadow a JVS career-technical lab each quarter. Upon completion of their sophomore year, students are then able to make an informed decision when applying for a two-year career-technical program.

Even though she found the lab to be difficult, Kayla liked the challenge. “Mr. Schreiber said that he saw potential in me, and that really made me want to keep working at it more.”

Mark Schreiber is the welding and fabrication instructor for the JVS high school and has been teaching the program for nearly thirty years, and seeing potential in Kayla is putting it mildly. “This kid has raw talent. She is easily in the top ten of students I’ve had in my career here, and she is only a sophomore,” said Schreiber.

“The demand is very high for skilled trade workers right now, especially welding,” Schreiber explained, “and more women are moving in this direction and the industry has had to adapt to the women coming in.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up approximately two percent of the welders in the United States, but those in the field including Mr. Schreiber, hope to see that number increase.

“Almost all of the female students I’ve had tell me their interest in welding sparked during their visit to our Open House, or during their 9 weeks in the program during their sophomore year at JVS,” Schreiber explained. “They are curious, they try it out, and for those that have the skills; they excel in the program.”

According to Lassen Cain, her daughter is a hands-on learner, which is why she knew the JVS would be a perfect fit for her. “The way to learn is through practice, and I’ve told that to Kayla when she was getting nervous about being in the welding lab,” shared Lassen Cain. “But this is how she learns best, and now when she comes home, she is so proud to tell me all that she is accomplishing.”

Kayla had the opportunity to show her Mom exactly what she has been learning by taking her mom into the welding booth at JVS. Lassen Cain was thrilled.

As they spent time in the booth, Kayla quickly took on the role of instructor, as she showed her mom different skills inside the booth.

“That was so awesome,” Lassen Cain said through tears as she exited the welding booth. “I’m so proud of her. She has great confidence and was so patient with me. This was an incredible moment.”

As for her future, Kayla is still figuring it all out. “I think I want to work in a shop for a couple of years, just to see how that is and see where that can lead me.”

After successful completion of the JVS welding and fabrication two-year program, students have the opportunity to take the American Welding Society certification test to earn the twelve point industry credential and become a certified welder.