Mobile welding lab in Rochester will offer free training to underserved communities

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – With federal recovery dollars, Monroe County is funding 40 projects it hopes will rebuild our community after the pandemic and help connect people with jobs.  One of those projects is a mobile welding lab that will offer training programs to at-risk youth, inmates and offenders on probation in hopes of removing barriers to employment. 

Dr. Roosevelt Mareus is the Dean of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in downtown Rochester and leading the mobile welding lab project.  He tells News10NBC he’s always looking for ways to reach more students. “My wife and I were on vacation in Virginia and I went to visit this community college and they had a mobile welding lab and I fell in love with it,” he says. 

The lab will travel to underserved neighborhoods. “We have a lot of students that cannot come here because of transportation issues, daycare issues, and some of them I want to reach—because they’re losing hope so, we’re going to take the lab to them we have a lot of students who are concerned about some of the violence and Rochester we also want to address that as well,” Dr. Mareus says.

The lab will have 8 booths inside where students can train.  Dr. Mareus says he’s already had conversations with Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter about the possibility of offering the training to inmates at the jail who are interested. “Let’s say, for example, they start at the mobile lab while they’re in jail and they cannot finish it, they can come here to REOC and finish it or they can go to a different section where we have the mobile lab and finish it,” he explains.

The training will be free to eligible students.  If a person completes the 250 hours of training necessary, they can become certified as a professional welder. “Welding is a very high-demand job, there are so many opportunities in Rochester so when we create this program after they complete the program they will definitely get a good paying job,” says Dr. Mareus.

The REOC is getting $1.3 million dollars in funding from Monroe County’s ARPA funding to build the mobile lab.  Dr. Mareus is hoping to have the full program up and running in the next year or so. 

For more information on the other projects selected for Monroe County’s ARPA funding, click here.