The CWB Association has a longstanding reputation for supporting the Canadian welding and metal fabrication sector and providing a forum for industry professionals to interact and engage with each other. One of the CWB Association’s most recent and innovative programs is facilitating collaboration between employers and local training providers to train welding apprentices through its Enhanced Welder Apprenticeship Training (EWAT) program.
This pivotal move by the CWB Association aims to serve the needs of the apprentices by providing them with the chance to work with several employers and exposing them to various metal fabrication processes and skills development opportunities during their apprenticeship period.
The CWBA, an industry association dedicated to the well-being and sustainability of the welding industry. It would like to see a positive shift in the current trends in apprenticeship training. To showcase the diversity and applicability of the EWAT initiative, CWBA members travelled across the country and met with over 400 employers to discuss this new apprenticeship model that has the potential to revolutionize the way apprentices are trained.
At its roots, the EWAT program is designed to provide apprentices with expanded training opportunities by rotating work placements approximately once a year. This gives apprentices exposure to a variety of different processes, technologies, methods, and, most importantly, mentors to enhance their learning experience, giving them a varied skill set to prepare them for the broad range of careers found in these sectors.
“The present culture towards apprenticeship training needs to change, and we need significantly greater numbers of employers participating in apprenticeship training. We need to make apprenticeship more attractive for our youth, and the present model must change and be made more beneficial for both employers and apprentices,” shared Dan Tadic, director of the CWB Association. “Our governments need to provide leadership and be courageous and take some risks in this cultural journey of change in apprenticeship training. There are significant benefits to an increased skilled work force that will lead to improvements in productivity, quality, and profitability of our industry.”
The Canadian federal and provincial governments have also recognized that there is a shortage of standardized training across multiple specialties for welders, which results in substandard skill sets that are being addressed as part of this program.
The association conducted a research study in 2017 on the state of the Red Seal Welder Apprenticeship program across Canada, and the results were concerning. The welder apprenticeship enrolment remains low, and completion rates are even lower. In Ontario alone, there were only 159 registrations on average over 10 years, of which only 33 completed the program. In Quebec, there were as few as 36 registrations and 16 completions on average.
Based on these results, it is glaringly evident that these numbers need to be addressed and improved drastically. The future of welder and metal fabricator apprenticeship training is in jeopardy because we lack the number of enrolments and completions required to address the shortage in the industry.
Welding is a voluntary trade in every province except Alberta, whereas metal fabrication is a voluntary trade nationwide, which does little to improve these statistics. Due to the alarmingly low numbers in metal fabrication specifically, EWAT for metal fabrication, a pilot program for apprentices in the sector, has been implemented for employers in Hamilton, Vancouver, and Halifax, and will be followed in other cities soon.
According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, only about 19 per cent of employers train apprentices for all trades. This means that there is an opportunity for about 81 per cent of employers to actively participate in the initiative to train apprentices that are looking to enter the welding and metal fabrication trades. The EWAT model for welding and metal fabrication is designed to engage employers and provide apprentices with the opportunities to obtain the skills that are needed in today’s industry.
To more broadly support our industry, the CWB Association is developing EWAT 2.0. This development will include guides for:
- Employers: how to interview and evaluate the skills of new hires
- Mentors: how to communicate and guide an apprentice through their development journey
- Apprentices: how to find employers, how to prepare for an interview, where to find funding, how to communicate with an employer and mentor, etc.
These guides will be available by the end of this year.
With the help of our governing bodies, the CWB Association is hopeful that the industry will be in favour of the EWAT program, which serves to transform apprenticeship training in Canada. It is imperative for the federal and provincial governments to work together to encourage employers to participate in order to ensure growth, development, and prosperity.
To learn more about the EWAT program, please visit www.cwbassociation.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rhea Gill is marketing communications specialist at CWB Group.