By Emma Derr
Byers Technical Institute in Buena Vista is giving Rockbridge County residents the skills they need to pursue welding and help fill the industry’s shortage of workers. The American Welding Society estimates that there will be a national shortage of 400,000 welders by 2025. BTI Director Walt Johnson said local companies have at least 50 vacant welding jobs. BTI received a $200,000 matching grant from Growth and Opportunity Virginia, a statewide initiative for economic growth, earlier this month to help address the supply-and-demand gap. The match was donated by Rockbridge County, Buena Vista and private companies Waynesboro Metal Fabricators and Byers Inc.