ATNZ’s training initiatives ignite spark to address welder shortage

ATNZ is taking strides to address the acute shortage of skilled welders in New Zealand.

“The lack of skilled labour is causing problems across the engineering and manufacturing sectors with the latest data from the Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA) reporting that 72% of welding sector employers have personally had trouble employing experienced welders,” says Ben Julian, ATNZ national manager.

He says the problem is exacerbated by increased demand driven by retirement due to an ageing workforce, emigration and employee attrition.

Julian says that the introduction of Level 3 and Level 4 NZQA-approved NZ Certificates in Welding provides fresh specialised training previously unavailable in New Zealand. The Level 3 programme equips learners with entry-level knowledge, while the Level 4 programme enables more advanced skills and is an excellent segue into fabrication apprenticeship. Both NZ Certificates in Welding are 42 weeks/60 credits.

As part of the strategy to utilise technology for better learner outcomes, ATNZ has acquired welding simulation equipment which includes robotics. The company says that the equipment is highly realistic and authentic to real-world usage and simulates all weld types, materials and positions with immediate feedback and instruction enabling an increase in the speed of learning.

Additionally, the simulated experience eliminates the use of materials and wear and tear on equipment, delivering cost savings and a safer learning environment. The equipment is available for deployment with a trainer to engineering premises or other suitable locations. “This is a game changer for Aotearoa, ATNZ and vocational education,” says Julian. “We now have transitional Training in place starting with the simulators, into our welding programme, then into an apprenticeship and ultimately into our level 5. Never has there been an opportunity to upskill as quickly as this to a standard much higher than previously available.”

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