MORGANTOWN, W.Va. State Treasurer and Republican candidate for the Second Congressional District, Riley Moore, came to the Monongalia County Technical Education Center (MTEC) Friday morning to do some welding and promote the Jumpstart Savings program.

The program allows family members, employers or the account holder to make tax-free contributions to a savings and investment account up to $25,000 each year. The money can then be used for a variety of expenses to get their work life started.

“The Jumpstart Savings Program allows individuals who have graduated from a trade school, technical school, or union apprenticeship to be able to save money for after graduation to buy tools. equipment, licenses, certifications, and new business start-up costs,” Moore said.

After graduating from high school, Moore went directly to trade school to become a certified welder. When his grandfather, former governor Arch Moore, encouraged him to get a college degree, Moore continued to work as a welder through college.

“I ended up taking a pay cut on my first job related to my college degree from where I was welding, and I wondered if this was a good idea. I sure hope so,” Moore said.

Due to the aging population, there is a need for nearly 400,000 professionally trained welders nationwide. Welders work on farms, underwater, at nuclear power plants, and in industrial pipelines, and some can earn up to $150,000 per year.

“Look, there are welders right now making a tremendous amount of money—six figures—and they’re doing great work out there,” Moore said. “There are so many opportunities in the trades.”

Trade publications point to an increased demand for welders solely due to the demographic shift, but Moore believes another shift will increase demands for all trades across the board in the near future.

“As we continue to disentangle ourselves from our relationship with China, we are going to bring more jobs back home to the people of the United States,” Moore projected.