Collaboration At Work: CWI Welding Program

The Center for Workforce Innovation (CWI) Welding Program is a collaboration between the CWI, the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building, and Strickland Machine. The program, as part of Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ initiative to fight poverty, helps individuals in poverty learn employable skills that can lead to financial independence.

Andrew Walker, CWI Welding Program
Article by Andrew Walker, Lead Welding Instructor for the CWI Welding Program

Jobs that offer living wages are a key strategy to mitigate poverty. Welding is one occupation that can offer a variety of career opportunities locally and abroad. Welding jobs may offer a livable wage regardless of background and challenges.

The CWI Welding Program was originally designed to train and prepare 20 participants for certification. Over the past two years, the program has met that goal, with more than 90% of participants passing certification testing and 30% of participants using their skills in the field. In addition to skills training in welding, participants receive forklift and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training.

Over the past two years, participants have had the opportunity to work on several special projects. The UCI World Championships race, for example, provided the unique opportunity for participants to build bike racks and finish line barriers (in collaboration with the Greater Richmond Chamber) throughout the city, as well as art stands for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). In the future, the program is expanding to include auto body repairs in addition to welding.


This example of regional collaboration not only brings together multiple partners, but also crosses both our Workforce Preparation and Education priority areas. Contact us if you have a collaborative story to share.