Kids get a taste of welding career at camp

A summer welding camp at Vancouver Island University is sparking interest in young students considering a future career as welders.

A summer welding camp at Vancouver Island University is sparking interest in young students considering a future career as welders as well as apprentices working through certification.

The Canadian Welding Association (CWA) Foundation has donated $25,000 to VIU’s Cowichan Trades Centre to install four new welding booths to be used in testing for apprentices. As well, the CWA is contributing $10,000 to fund a summer welding camp Aug. 24 to 28 for youths aged 12 to 15.

The Mind Over Metal Summer Camp is offered by the CWA in various cities across Canada, and Cowichan’s is the first offered on Vancouver Island, according to welding chair Mike Hallam, who noted that the camp is full with a waiting list.

The summer camp program is offered in partnership with School District 79 and hopes to capture the interest of younger-age students.

Fully funded, the experience includes some meals, equipment and materials, busing to and from the site, and all instruction and full supervision.

Students will learn welding safety, gas metal arc welding, an introduction to welding symbols, and a brief overview of the impact of welding on daily life.

Later, the students will have a chance to have some fun with real arcs and sparks.

“It’s a try-a-trade experience in welding for elementary and middle school age kids,” Hallam said, adding Cowichan Valley schools have offered similar hands-on trades experiences this past year for elementary age children in woodwork, drywall, electrical, plumbing and carpentry with support from the school district.

“It’s going to be hands-on and fun so when they finish they’ll have great memories and hopefully feel inspired to pursue a career in the welding profession,” said Deborah Mates, director of the CWA Foundation.

Students in the summer welding camp who discover they enjoy the trade may be eligible to take part in the dual credit program offered by School District 79 and VIU, which involves registering in their senior high school years to learn welding while completing high school.

Hallam said 31 dual credit students were registered in three welding classes in the last school year.

With the facility upgrade, students who have completed their post-secondary welding programs at VIU and other Canadian trades training institutions, and who are working on or maintaining their Red Seal accreditation, will now be able to complete their testing at VIU’s Cowichan Trades Centre.

With the CWA donation, VIU Cowichan becomes a testing agency under the Canadian Welding Bureau.

“Every two years apprentices have to be retested for the CWB,” Hallam said. “Welding is the most tested trade ongoing — after you graduate you’re tested on a regular basis.”

VIU’s welding program has grown in size and number of students in the past year, he added, expanding from two classes to three, and with 200 potential students on a waiting list.