INA, IL (March 9, 2022) – People interested in earning a welding credential may soon be able to skip ahead in class if they have welding experience or are a quick learner, thanks to a new grant to Rend Lake College from the Illinois Community College Board.

The $200,000 award will facilitate the development of a competency-based education (CBE) welding program. CBE is self-paced learning and mastery of skills that align with real-world skills demanded by industry. CBE programs are especially advantageous for students with prior knowledge who can use their experience to expedite their progress. In other words, students with experience or the ability to master skills quickly can move faster through the program.

The flexible scheduling accommodates those who work full-time or have rotating work schedules. CBE programs allow for multiple entry and exit points, which help serve those wanting to advance or change their careers.

“We are excited about this opportunity to help meet industry demand by generating a talent pipeline through expedited training,” said Lori Ragland, Vice President of Instruction and Student Affairs. “The goal is to meet students where they are by assessing their prior knowledge and skills. The instruction will be customized to each individual’s needs leading to industry recognized credentials in less time and at a lower cost.”

“Education has to evolve to remain relevant to the needs of our students and the careers they want to pursue,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “CBE is one avenue that looks to change the landscape of education in that very direction.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in welding is expected to grow 8 percent over the next decade. In Illinois, welding continues to be an in-demand career with the local labor market needing additional skilled workers.

The competency-based education option for welding is currently in development and will be available in 2023.

RLC currently offers an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Welding Technology, as well as certificate programs in welding technology, welding fundamentals, advanced welding techniques and pipe welding technology.  More information about the welding program is available at or at 618.437.5321, Ext. 1261.

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