Trade school makes changes following 13News Now Investigation

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by Janet Roach, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on March 6, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 6 at 7:40 PM

NORFOLK --  Kenneth Bose questions whether he got what he paid for after attending school to become a welder.

Bose enrolled in a nine-month program at Tidewater Tech in Norfolk, costing $15,000.  After graduating with a B+ average, he expected to be certified with the American Welding Society.  He says that's what school officials told him and his classmates -- but that certification didn't happen.

"They told me that I go and test, or take the course, get good grades and at the end I'll have an AWS certification," says Bose.

Tidewater Tech is a for-profit school on Princess Anne Road.  The school gets 68 percent of its funding from federal student aid, according to Campus Executive Director Yvette Wilson.

Bose had to get a loan to pay for the welding program and wants to be able to qualify for a well-paying job. So far, he's only been able to get a job as a welding helper.

"I couldn't qualify for even a third-class welder," Bose said.

When 13News Now investigators first met Bose, the Tidewater Tech website listed American Welding Society under a "Get Certified" headline.

Other students, including Kendall Jackson, had the impression that upon completing the program he would be certified. 

"It's very important. That's what they told us," says Jackson.

Bose says his inquiries to Tidewater Tech and its corporate office produced little results. School officials told him he was certified, but when Bose contacted AWS, there was no record of his certification.

Wilson now admits that she and school officials didn't realize students weren't getting certified. Although test plates were being viewed by a certified welding inspector, students were supposed to be tested at an accredited testing facility.

Wilson says she was misinformed. When asked how she got the wrong impression, she says, "Well because -- that's a good question -- and that's what I'm trying to understand as well."

Wilson says at this point, all she can do is make it right.

The Tidewater Tech website now says "Get Qualified" with no mention of the word "certification" when referring to the American Welding Society.

Wilson says at no time were students charged more money for a certification. She plans to make sure Bose receives one.

"I'm going to pay for him to take his certification at an accredited testing facility...and we are going to become an accredited testing facility as well."  Wilson hopes that will be done by June.

The closest accredited testing facilities according the AWS are in Baltimore, Maryland and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Tidewater Tech is an educational institutional member of AWS.

Wilson also boasts good relationships with area employers, including Huntington-Ingalls. She says the shipyard recently hired four of her welding students.

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