Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tyrick Erquhart wouldn’t trade his experience for anything else. In four weeks and with no prior exposure, he successfully learned to lay the perfect bead.

“I would tell anyone to stick with it,” the 18-year-old advised about the Fast Track Welding Program at Paul D. Camp Community College. “It starts off hard, but you can’t let yourself get discouraged.”

Tyrick Erquhart

Tyrick Erquhart of Franklin enrolled in the Fast Track Welding program at PDCCC after graduating from Southampton High School in June. He has been hired at Huntington Ingalls and will apply to the Apprentice School this spring.

The student just graduated from Southampton High School in June. He knew he wanted to get some hands-on experience in the area of trades and the Career Services Program at the high school was there to guide him.

“Ms. (Tisha) Evans told me about the programs at Paul D. Camp,” he said. She is the career services advisor at the high school. In August, Erquhart had completed the Fast Track Welding Program, and two weeks later, he had landed a job at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII). In addition, completing the program at PDCCC first allowed him to go to the industry at an entry level position at a higher wage rather than having to train first.

“The program is designed to meet the workforce needs of regional and area employers,” said FastForward Career Coach Lisha Wolfe. “But it’s clearly a win-win, as the students are employed sooner and make sustainable wages.” FastForward refers to the Virginia Community College System’s workforce programs that help train Virginians for fulfilling careers in a short amount of time.

After taking a tour of The Apprentice School, Recruiter Paul Hoffman recommended getting a job at HII before applying to the school, which is operated by Newport News Shipbuilding and is a division of HII. The recent graduate anticipates applying for spring 2018 classes there. He is awaiting the start date of his new position.

“When Tyrick comes out of The Apprentice School, he will be able to make more money,” said Wolfe. “He will likely be making more than $50,000 a year and will also have the job title of foreman.”

In addition to the Fast Track Welding Certificate, Erquhart earned a Silver level Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) which also gave him an edge when conducting a job search after graduation. “Industries look at this credential as an added plus,” explained Wolfe. “It sets candidates apart from other applicants.”

The welder is pleased to have learned of the opportunities offered so close to home, and the fact that he has graduated with no student debt. “I would recommend the program,” he said. “You get a chance to explore different fields within the trade. Trades are becoming more marketable and there is a big demand for welders.

“It just takes a lot of practice. Make sure you ask questions. But once you get the hang of it, you’ve got it, because it is all hands on.”

For more information, call the Workforce Development Office at 757-569-6050, email or visit'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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