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Workforce Wednesday: Darek Johoske learns welding at GRCC before traveling the country

Oct. 13, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. Each Wednesday we’ll meet students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

Darek Johoske was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. He graduated from high school in 2019, and started a welding education program there. Shortly after he started, the school closed its doors due to COVID-19. Luckily, he found GRCC’s Welding Job Training program and headed to Michigan!

“I’m so much happier here then I was at the other school. This weld shop is unbelievable! It’s so much bigger; I never have to wait or share with anyone to use the equipment,” he said. “The lab is clean and state of the art.”

The GRCC Job Training Welding program takes place at the Tassell M-TEC and meets for 18-weeks for 34 hours per week. The program offers small class sizes, hands-on learning and job placement assistance.

“Growing up, I always thought that college was not my thing, but this program is more like a job,” he said. “I come every day and I get to learn. The class work is minimal and Nate Haney is a phenomenal teacher. He sits down and really listens to what I have to say. I can feel that he really wants me to succeed. This is not just a job for him-it’s his passion.”

GRCC instructor Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator.

Students in the program learn: shielded metal arc welding (arc/stick welding), gas metal arc welding (metal inert gas/wire welding), gas tungsten arc welding (heli-arc/tungsten inert gas welding), oxy-fuel welding (gas welding), cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. When you graduate, you will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well.

“Next week I turn 21, graduate from this program and start my career. My friend is also into welding so he and I will be working together,” Johoske said.

The two young men will be traveling the country with traveling iron workers company, Mountain West Industrial, based out of Utah.

“I’m young and this is the time for me to travel and see the US. Being able to do it with my best friend is going make it even better!”

According to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, there will be 34.7% job growth in welding from 2012 to 2022.

“This career is so much more than what people think of when they think about welding. You get to use super cool big boy tools that not everybody gets to use. You are manipulating metal to your will; it’s so much fun! It’s actually thrilling to take something that you can’t even bend with your hand and heat it up and its Play-Doh.

 “I like that welding isn’t dirty like some of the other skilled trades. It’s a trade that would interest a lot of people if they just knew more about it! If someone is thinking about going into welding, I say, ‘Go for it!’ If you think you have the itch for it do it! The only way to differentiate yourself in the welding field is to really want it. Anyone can weld but not everyone is a skilled welder. You’ve got to always be eager to learn.”

In addition to the GRCC Welding Job Training program, GRCC is offering a Welding Metallica Scholars program. This program, which is financially supported by the All Within My Hands Foundation, is a welding bootcamp. It begins on October 18, 2021 and runs through February 2022. There are only a few spots still available.

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at, and by phone at (616) 234-3800.

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