NIC welding student performs oxy-gouging to remove the backing bar while preparing for a weldment for bend testing.

Strong demand for metal workers on north Vancouver Island

North Island College grads reaping the benefits

North Island College welding grads are in demand in shops across the North Island.

Just ask Brayden Austin. He began training for a career in welding as a Grade 12 Youth in Trades (formerly ACE-IT) student. Three years later, he is working full time at D&D Services Welding & Fabricating and preparing to write his Interprovincial Red Seal exam.

Austin’s co-worker, fellow NIC welding alumnus Ryan Ware, was working as a general labourer and doing cabinetry work in Vancouver before deciding to move back to his hometown of Courtenay and pursue studies in metalwork.

“As soon as I started it, I fell in love with it,” said Ware. “It’s an awesome program with awesome teachers. I learned a huge amount.”

Like Austin, Ware enjoys the variety of work the most. A typical day could include fixing an aluminum boat, making guardrails for barges, or repairing farm equipment.

“One of the first things we did when I came here was a conveyor belt for a cranberry farm,” Ware said. “There’s something different every day.”

Austin and Ware’s boss, Dan Dilks, said he looks for well-rounded employees for his business, which does everything from marine and aquaculture welding to structural steel and equipment repair work.

Other local tradespeople who have hired NIC graduates say local roots and a positive work ethic can make all the difference.

Tyrone Monteith, project manager and health and safety co-ordinator for Ocean Pacific Marine, said demand for qualified welders can ebb and flow depending on the season. But employment for welders in the marine industry is “only getting busier,” and the company is always on the lookout for new talent.

“If you have the right skills and the right attitude, we’ll even go so far as to create work over the winter so as not to lose someone,” said Monteith.

The BC Labour Market Outlook 2017 Edition expects 2,800 new jobs for welders and related machine operators to open up in the next 10 years.

“If you have an A-game attitude, you can go anywhere,” said NIC instructor Ross Holden.

“Welding training opens doors to a very interesting and lucrative career. Welding can be an excellent stepping stone to lots of career paths, like metal fabrication, welding inspection and supervision, teaching or owning your own business. Once you have your training, there are plenty of options to explore.”

Visit www.nic.bc.ca/trades for more information on welding and other trade programs at NIC.

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