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Richard Petty, Northern Tool working to spark interest in trade skills

'Northern Tool's for the Trades' made a $25,000 donation to Randleman High School.

RANDLEMAN, N.C. — The King of NASCAR, Richard Petty helped present a large donation to students at Randleman High School.

The focus was to give students the skills that will help lay the groundwork for a strong career in welding and fabrication.

All of the equipment was donated through a partnership with Northern Tool and the King, himself.

Long before Petty's racing career, he was a welder.

An industry that the American Welding Society estimates will be short 300,000 workers by 2024.

"The estimate that we know are about 3 million jobs today for skilled trades that are going on the field because we don’t have enough people who are willing to take those jobs or are being trained for those jobs," said Suresh Krishna is the CEO for Northern Tool and Equipment.

The need for experienced workers sparked the company to launch Tools for the Trades.

A program that provides tools and equipment for schools across the country.

All in an effort to bridge the gap in talented trade workers.

“About 25% of the people working in manufacturing today are 55 years or older. So while we have a problem today the problem in the next 5 to 10 years is going to be even more acute," said Krishna.

"Machinery it’s not going to be able to make everything, somebody’s got to be able to make the machine," said Richard Petty. 

Petty’s racing career dates back to 1958 and centers around welding and fabrication, an essential skill in building race cars. 

He encouraged these students to apply their interests into a career.

Whether that means going to work after high school or furthering their education at a trade school.

"Everybody’s not meant to go to college we got to have somebody that does the work. As things progress, I think they are going to be more and more in demand," said Petty. 

"We want to provide opportunities for kids to learn about alternatives that they can then choose for themselves. we’re not saying for your colleges are not good, we’re saying they are alternatives," said Krishna.

Today’s donation to Randleman High Schools included welders, compressors, safety equipment and gift cards for every student.

The price tag for the donation totaled $25,000.

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