Workforce Wednesday: Cory Stout uses Michigan Reconnect to gain in-demand welding skills and a new career

Cory Stout standing next to a toolbox, holding a welding helmet , and smiling

Cory Stout worked in the tool and die Industry for several years, but moved into a construction job when he hear rumors of layoffs.

Then, during the COVID shutdown, Stout was able to reflect and decide what comes next. He remembers being interested in the welding activities during his time in tool and die. He heard GRCC has a reputable welding program and checked into it.

“Once I looked at the program and the hands-on welding lab, I was excited to get started.”

Stout was connected to career coach Michael Wemmer, who turned him on to the Michigan Reconnect program.

“If you are willing to fill out the forms, there is support available. Michigan Reconnect has been a godsend.”

Michigan Reconnect is a state program that covers the cost of in-district tuition for Michiganders 25 or older without a college degree. This program provides eligible students with access to pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate at their local community college.

The Job Training Welding program meets for 18-weeks, Monday through Thursday, for 34 hours per week and offers job placement assistance.

“The schedule of the program is great,” Stout said. “It’s set up just like a job.”

As a student, you learn: shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding oxy-fuel welding, cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

The program is led by GRCC Instructor Nate Haney. Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator.

“Nate is far and away the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Stout said. “Truly exceptional. He never says a negative thing. He will tell you the positive aspects of the weld and how to improve it, but he never uses the word ‘bad’. Every time you walk away from Nate, you feel confident that you can improve on what you are doing. That is something you don’t find anywhere. Anyone can pass on learned knowledge but to do it in a way that you want to learn is truly special.”

Stout believes the hands-on aspect is invaluable.

“There is no comparison between learning from a book and learning by doing. We started welding the second day of class!”

He also enjoyed the staggering of the class start dates.

“The class that started before me was really helpful and now I am helping the classes that started after me. We are all learning from each other. It’s been fun and very satisfying,” he said.

“There is so much new technology developing in the welding field. It’s not just old school welding- it’s lasers, micro welds, pulse welds, spray welding-avenues I never even knew existed! If I were to get a job and get training from my employer, I would never learn all the other types of welding that are out there.”

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. Graduates will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well.

Stout is looking at several different employment opportunities.

 “I have been working with Diego Roman, a job developer at the MTEC, but pretty much everyone has helped me somewhere along the way. Everyone seems to have connections in the industry and they are working really hard to help find the best fit.

“My family is super supportive and proud of me. I have had to make some sacrifices financially but it is totally worth it. This may be short-term training but there are definitely long-term benefits. The program gets you into the workforce in just over four months and, for me, without any debt.”

Stout has already finished the required work for the program and will graduate on Feb. 16.  

One Workforce grant has provided the careering coach and job develop support for Cory. The next section of Job Training programs begins, April 17, 2023. For more information: or 616-234-3800.

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