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Boys Town and Lincoln Electric: Partnership Supports Youth Development

Lincoln Electric

​Without roads to drive on, mechanics to fix our cars, welders to build our bridges and plumbers that come to our rescue, where we would we be? The fact of the matter is tradespeople are essential to our society, yet many still believe that trades are a secondary option or are less than compared to other jobs. Jim Clements and Lincoln Electric, the world's largest provider of welding and cutting equipment, are both doing their part to destigmatize trade jobs and provide Boys Town youth with the skills and knowledge necessary to have successful trade careers once they're out of the system.

Jim Clements began his career at Boys Town in the housekeeping department in 2001 and immediately fell in love with the work and support that Boys Town provides. In 2010 he returned with his wife and served as a Family Teacher for five years before working as a hotline counselor and, finally, finding his place as the vocational teacher at Boys Town High School.

Now, as the Technical Trades Instructor, Clements dedicates his time addressing the stigma surrounding trade jobs and inspiring youth to follow their passions regardless of what society has to say. "I have always been a firm believer that skilled tradespeople are the backbone of our society," said Clements. "Teaching trades to our students gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment that many of them have never experienced. Having a part of that and knowing that the classes I run for these kids might be the catalyst for a lifelong career is humbling and rewarding, and it's probably the biggest reason I get up every morning and come to work."

Lincoln Electric originally took an interest in Boys Town after hearing that the welding program needed equipment. After learning about Boys Town and the youth that come through the program they knew that they wanted to partner with Boys Town and generously donated a multi-process welding machine, a plasma torch, a TIG welder and a number of their high-quality welding helmets. "The fact of the matter is that we simply could not have made this class work as well as we have without these generous donations," said Clements.

Boys Town supports the idea that trades are not a secondary choice and can be viable careers for the youth. With the rising cost of tuition at four-year universities, more people are beginning to understand the value of trade careers. With passionate teachers like James Clements and companies like Lincoln Electric who are dedicated to supporting welding education for Boys Town youth, we are ensuring that our students are going out into the world one step ahead of the competition.

"My students have heard me say this a thousand times: Going into skilled trades should be considered a victory, not a consolation prize. For too long we have let the universities convince us and our kids that the question to be asked of our future is 'are you good enough for college, or will you get stuck doing manual labor?'" said Clements. "My humble opinion is that maybe it's time for us to turn that philosophy on its head and start asking our kids if they have the skills to become something as important as a tradesperson."

Boys Town: Trade Life
Watch the video below for the full story of Boys Town's new welding program and the involvement from Lincoln Electric. This video originally appeared on www.arcmagazine.pub.