Upskill, upskill, upskill… Welding training: Adapting to today’s industry

The welding industry is booming, but there is one problem – a shortage of skilled welders in New Zealand. The solution: providing information and education. And the good news is that there are plenty of providers out there to help train new staff and up skill others. Industry training organisation Competenz spoke to NZEN about some of the challenges the sector faces and how they can help.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of the industry believes there is a shortage of full-time welders. As one of the country’s 11 transitional industry training organisations (TITOs), partnering with employers, apprentices, schools, training providers and assessors across the country, Competenz hopes to help with this.

“New Zealand has a shortage of skilled welders, particularly as closed borders often mean overseas skills are unavailable,” says Competenz’s national manager of sector engagement, Mathew Vandy.

An ageing workforce and a male dominated workforce also contribute to the sector’s shortage of workers.

“Companies now need to identify, up skill and cross-train existing employees to tailor their skills to fit current industry gaps.”

Training newcomers

Competenz runs campaigns to attract more people into apprenticeships and traineeships, which include welding skills.

“With an ageing workforce in the industry, succession planning is key. Transferring valuable skills from those about to exit the workforce to an apprentice or other team members helps meet those succession demands,” says Vandy.

“Our experienced teams manage pathways that impact roles in the welding industry, and provide pastoral care and support for learners in those programmes.

“Our strong connections with welding providers give us the opportunity to ensure outcomes for our learners meet the expectations of the industry.

“We also have a feasibility study underway, in partnership with the welding industry, to research a welding-specific pathway.”

Welcoming women to welding

With only 14% of engineers being female, another issue is the low percentage of women in trades.

However, Vandy says it should now be easier to women to enter the industry with profile cut parts, smaller components and more lifting assistance being increasingly introduced.

“Modern workplaces should have removed any barriers to hiring women. While some engineering workshops have an equal employment policy, in general, there is still work to be done.”

A change of direction

From August 1, Competenz’s functions to arrange, support and assess work-based training will transition to a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga – the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

“This is a new entity which, when the transformation is complete, will incorporate all 16 New Zealand institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) and 11 industry training organisations (ITOs),” says Vandy.

“However, employers and learners will notice very little change and will continue to receive our support and services through this transformational period and beyond.”