Kaela Martin, a twenty-year-old from Sheffield, Massachusetts, has embarked on a transformative career path in welding, thanks to the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board’s Introduction to Welding training program. Kaela’s journey from a desk job to the welding industry showcases the potential for young adults to discover fulfilling, hands-on careers through targeted training initiatives.

Before joining the Introduction to Welding training, Kaela had limited knowledge of the endless opportunities available in fabrication and manufacturing in Berkshire County. Her interest in welding was sparked when her father came across the training program on Facebook, and Kaela, seeking a more hands-on occupation, decided to take the leap. The Introduction to Welding training is a no-cost program funded by the Mass Technological Collaborative, held at McCann Technological School.

Kaela’s experience with the training program left a lasting impression. She found the training to be efficiently structured, allowing her to grasp the fundamentals without feeling rushed. The dedicated and experienced instructors provided invaluable support. Kaela emphasized that if she ever had questions, they were willing to stay late to ensure she had a clear understanding of the material.

Upon completing the welding training, Kaela further honed her employability skills through MassHire’s Career Readiness training offered at the MassHire Career Center. This equipped her with the skills to craft a compelling resume and excel in interviews. Armed with these capabilities, Kaela was well-prepared to enter the job market.

Kaela’s journey led her to LENCO, the Pittsfield-based manufacturer of armored police and military vehicles, where she secured a position within just three weeks of completing her training. Her decision was influenced by a classmate who had previously worked at LENCO and her attendance at a job fair, where she had the chance to connect with a LENCO representative.

Kaela now serves as a fabricator on the parts team at LENCO, responsible for crafting subcomponents for vehicles. The precision required in her work is crucial, as it involves adhering to blueprints with critical dimensions and weld marks. The team handles a variety of products, including non-armor and armor metal, ensuring that each component is fabricated accurately for seamless integration.

Mike DiCicco, operations manager at LENCO, expressed how the collaboration with MassHire to identify qualified candidates benefits both the company and the younger generation interested in manufacturing careers. John Mach emphasized the scarcity of fabricators and welders in the industry and the importance of training programs in attracting young talent.

Despite initial apprehension about working primarily with male colleagues, Kaela has found LENCO to be a welcoming and inclusive workplace. She enjoys the camaraderie and appreciates the challenging nature of her role, which keeps her engaged and motivated.

Kaela’s advice to young women interested in trades is simple yet powerful: “Be bold.” She encourages others to step out of their comfort zones and not be afraid to pursue their passions in male-dominated fields.

Kaela’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of training programs and the vast trade opportunities available in the Berkshires. Her story demonstrates that pursuing a hands-on career can be not only rewarding but also essential in contributing to industries that impact people’s lives directly. She hopes that more young people consider trade careers as a viable and fulfilling alternative to traditional college education.