The Trades Shops Building at the Forsyth Tech Stokes County Center offers several new trades classes for spring

Learn a new trade in 2021 and be on your way to a new career.

With many jobs shifting or being eliminated during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to learn a skilled trade. For some trades, it takes only a few short months to go from beginner to earning a license, starting a new career or moving to a new level. Short-term classes are now offered at the new Forsyth Tech Trades Shops Building.

Scott Crews, program coordinator said, “With many current workers aging out or retiring, there is a huge demand for skilled trade workers such as electricians, plumbers, and welders. One of the most valuable skills is having a combination of all these skills to basically fix anything. This even allows you to start your own business.”

WeldingAt the Trades Shops Building, classes are offered in short-term programs in horticulture, electrical systems, plumbing and welding. Many classes are offered in the evening for flexibility and convenience. Students who’ve taken advantage of these classes have demonstrated enthusiasm and excitement for learning new skills or honing the ones they have.

For Hope Hudson, her father inspired her to learn welding to help him in his hobby of restoring his 1969 Chevrolet Nova.

“I had started in cosmetology and then took a certified nursing assistant class but when I found welding, I liked it so much that I continued learning. Now have a full-time job in welding!”

Retiree Jim Caragol is another welding student who just wanted to learn a new skill and said his classes in Stokes have been a good learning experience.

The Trades Shops Building opened in 2019 with clean and inviting classrooms containing all the latest equipment for welding and electrical.

In the electrical class, the students were a combination of retirees and full-time employees in other fields. Terrence Jones, a full-time printing press operator, said, “I always wanted to do electrical work, so I came to the Forsyth Tech Trades Shops Building in Stokes to see what was offered.”

Mark Linville, a retired shop teacher, wanted to upgrade his skills and enjoys being back in the classroom as a student. Paulina Ruffino works with her family in construction and wanted to polish her electrical skills. Gray Marshall, who works with computers wanted to try something new. And, Margaret Naughton, who had worked in theater production is taking time to learn more about electrical systems for lighting so she can return to work once theaters reopen.

Instructors in the Trades Shop Building are licensed in their fields and take pleasure in sharing their knowledge through teaching. Tommy Bragg, electrical instructor, has been a licensed electrician since 1996, has worked as an inspector and has his own company.

Crews said the class sizes are limited now due to social distancing, but they are eager to help students find what they enjoy.

“With classes only taking a few weeks, students can try something out, see if they like it and see if they want to pursue the next level,” said Crews who has worked in short-term training for 14 years with Forsyth Tech.

“Employers are not always looking for degrees, but are looking for skilled employees who are creative, know how to think outside the box and solve problems. Adult learners who are continuing their education often already have the soft skills to build relationships with other employees. We can teach them trade skills.”

Stokes also offers courses in kitchen countertops, makeovers and horticulture where homeowners can save a lot of money doing the work themselves.

Imagine learning a new skill in 2021! New classes begin in February at the Trades Shops Building and at different times throughout the spring semester.

To register for a class or for more information go to

Hope Hudson Picture

Hope Hudson takes a break before getting back to welding in class at the Trades Shop Building.

DOL awards $40M for workforce development

The U.S. Department of Labor will award a total of $40 million to 10 institutions, including nine community colleges, to build their capacity to meet demands for a skilled workforce.

“As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners for the public workforce system to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries such as healthcare, logistics and cybersecurity,” DOL said in a press release announcing the awards. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants (SCCTG) aim to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment.”

The grants also build the capacity of community colleges to address challenges associated with the pandemic, such as expanding online and technology-enabled learning.

The SCCTG program is intended to be a successor to previous similar programs, such as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants and the Community-Based Job Training Grants. It aims to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment, according to DOL.

Grant recipients are individual community colleges or a consortium of community colleges undertaking capacity building and systems change at the institutional or state level. Selected institutions will work with workforce development systems and employers to train a broad spectrum of workers, including dislocated workers, incumbent workers and new entrants to the workforce, according to DOL.