MITCHELL, SD - The bright flash of a welding torch may be one of the bright spots in the economy as South Dakota manufacturers look for skilled employees.
Workers in many parts of the country may be struggling to find jobs, but a Mitchell manufacturer is struggling to find workers.
"The lack of being able to get skilled welders is throttling our production and we could do a lot more. We have the business," Trail King President and CEO Bruce Yakley said.
Trail King in Mitchell builds large equipment and supply trailers and is losing business because they don't have enough workers, specifically welders, to build their products fast enough. It's due to a strong agricultural economy, the recovering construction industry and the booming oil industry.
"Oil and gas in North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Canada; it's really all over. Where they are drilling wells that's where you'll find Trail King products," Yakley said.
And that's why Trail King is trying to find more welders. Statewide more than 200 welding jobs are available and the need is so great that the legislature passed the South Dakota WINS program during the last session. Part of the program gives Mitchell Technical Institute a half million dollars to start up a welding program just down the road from the Trail King plant.
"Technical schools on a whole are very, very good at partnering with industry and making sure that the needs of industry are filled," Mitchell Tech President Greg Von Wald said.
But Trail King isn't just recruiting locally; they're also reaching out to other parts of the country where workers are looking for jobs.
"Several of the welders we've hired out-of-state have been working either on a contract or lost their jobs. So when they find out about us, they're very excited about coming here," Yakley said.
The state of South Dakota is also working to recruit 1,000 out-of-state workers to fill high-need jobs like welders.
"We need to get the message out that South Dakota has jobs," Yakley said.
Jobs that can be the bright spot for workers who have been through the dark days of the economy.
Trail King is also offering a scholarship for students at Mitchell Tech who are interested in the new welding program that will start this fall.