GFS Mentorship Program Prepares High School Students for Careers in Welding

This past school year, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) collaborated with Alma Center and Osseo-Fairchild School Districts in Wisconsin to form a mentorship program to promote careers in manufacturing and welding. GFS sent some of their experienced welders, Tim Urness and Corey Olson, to mentor local students in their Advanced Welding II class, providing them industry skills and experience beyond the traditional classroom.

From the Manufacturing Floor to the Classroom

“I worked on a farm for many years. When the industry took a turn, and I had a baby on the way, I looked for a more stable position,” said Tim Urness. “I saw an opening at GFS for a welder and applied. I didn’t have a lot of experience — only minor welding on the farm — but they were willing to give me a chance and train me. I started at Welder I and over the last 21 years, I have moved my way up to Welder III.”

Tim Urness began at GFS as a Welder I with little experience in the field. Today, more than 20 years later, he has grown within the company and is now a skilled Welder III.

This year, Tim decided to try something new, taking his many years of experience and mastery of welding to Osseo’s classroom. According to one of Tim’s students, he taught him skills that greater enhanced what he learned in his previous welding classes, along with small, yet critical, details like keeping the welding tip clean.

Similarly, Corey Olson, a Welder III at GFS, passed his vast skills and knowledge onto Alma Center’s welding students. Corey says welding is more than just a job, and he was ecstatic to teach students about the trade. During his time at Alma Center, Corey noticed his students begin to open up and embrace the new welding skills and techniques they were being taught.

Advice for Future Welders

Asked what they enjoyed most about their many years in manufacturing, Tim and Cory were quick to mention the positive impact GFS has had on their careers.

“GFS has been willing to train me in many different areas that allow me to do something new every day,” Tim said.

In fact, Tim attributes his new role as a mentor to those at GFS who encouraged him to try new things and use his skills to help others. Both Tim and Corey encourage their students who aspire to be future welders to learn as much as they possibly can about the trade and take advantage of any opportunities for education.

It’s not just students who experienced the benefits of Tim and Corey’s presence in the classroom, though. Osseo-Fairchild’s Technology Education teacher, Cory Halvorson, attributed the mentorship program to increase his students’ technical skills, as well as their confidence.

Cory says a great part of the program is that it takes traditional assignments and applies them to industry needs. This helps students understand what is required to become successful in their future careers. He also believes the program helps students see all of the job diversity that GFS offers.

“It is important that kids know they don’t have to leave the area to find a job doing something they love,” Cory said.

Positive Program Results

While GFS’ mentorship program with area high schools has been going on for just a year, the impact it has made on students is undeniable. Both Tim and Corey’s students have not only been equipped with new skills, but also the desire to pursue manufacturing-related careers after high school.


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