Woven Together Bringing Skilled Labor Career Awareness To Local Students

Jul 12, 2023 | Community Engagement

By Beno Konaraki, VP Production for WMP

Higher learning at the collegiate level isn’t for everyone, and potential employees with trade skills are incredibly valuable to manufacturers, as well as the economy. However, a 2021 study from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that the skills manufacturing gap in the U.S. could leave as many as 2.1 million jobs unfilled by 2030. That’s a massive gap and a lot of missed opportunities — both for potential employees and employers.

That’s why our team at Woven Metal Products (WMP), is taking steps to address the critical need for more skilled laborers. Through our community engagement program, Woven Together, WMP is reaching hundreds of students in its local community in and around Houston, Texas, introducing them to a world-class fabrication shop and showing them future career possibilities in welding and fabrication.

So far this year, nearly 150 high school and community college students visited our shop, meeting with team members, learning about potential career paths and the fabrication industry overall.

Beno Konaraki, vice president of production for WMP, answers a question about the fabrication process for Turner High School students and their instructors.

After visiting WMP, instructors from Galveston College invited our staff to attend a Welding Advisory Committee Meeting to give input into what students should be learning.

“Our students were so impressed with WMP and believe it has been the best shop they have ever visited,” said one of their staff.

I’m proud that our WMP team members are encouraging and inspiring their future colleagues, welcoming them into a field of possibilities within our industry. It’s a very rewarding experience to inspire these students. – Beno Konaraki, VP Production for WMP

Teachers from Turner High School in Pearland, Texas, also expressed how impactful and important in-shop visits are for their welding students after their students’ shop tour.

“[Today] I was reminded how valuable getting students into the industry is,” said Turner High School’s lead instructor. “Having conversations about opportunities to grow inside a company really spoke to kids who worry about doors they may be shutting by going straight into the workforce and following a different advanced education pathway.”

As a result, we’ve made one of our first hires from the Woven Together program. Shane Elder graduated from Turner High School in spring 2023, and he started as a welder with WMP in July.

Shane Elder visited WMP with Turner High School earlier in 2023. After graduation from high school, he joined WMP as a basic welder.

Learn more about Woven Together and all the ways WMP is supporting the future workforce, including the Spark for the Future scholarship, awarded annually to Houston students pursuing higher education in welding and related metal-working specializations. woven-together-supporting-our-community.


Kevin Stidham, WMP’s computer numeric control (CNC) foreman, explains to students from The Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School in Houston how WMP’s CNC equipment automates tasks to produce mass quantities of product.