More than 50 educators from across Canada participated in the Canadian Welding Association’s (CWA) annual Welding Educators Conference earlier this year at Nova Scotia Community College’s Akerly Campus in Dartmouth, NS.
The two-day seminar focused on welding education and standardizatin of welding curriculum.
“I am very pleased with the turn out, the presentations and the round table discussions,” says Dan Tadic, executive director of the CWA. “Every year the attendance continues to grow and educators are becoming more engaged, which are all great indicators of the importance of this type of conference. This year, the main topic of focus and debate was welding curriculum standardization. There has been some progress on this front, however, there continues to be gaps that need to be addressed, and it was very clear during round table discussions regarding this topic that all educators are on board and would like to see change.”
One of the presenters, Lorraine Coulombe, C=hair of the Interprovincial Standards and Examination Committee (ISEC), went into detail of new initiatives being undertaken by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) and the importance of harmonization in today’s economic climate than ever before. She also highlighted how CCDA is working collectively with provinces and territories to modernize, grow and standardize curriculum at post-secondary institutions across Canada, as well as the steady growth of the Red Seal program.
Joe Rudderham, director of apprenticeship training in the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Apprenticeship Harmonization focused on how the Interprovincial Red Seal program works from its inception 50 years ago and the changes that have occurred over the five decades. He also enlightened attendees on the federal government’s announcement outlined in their 2013 budget indicating the harmonization requirements for apprentices in targeted skilled trades.
“These efforts are intended to facilitate apprentice completion and encourage mobility,” he said.
A presentation on the CWA Foundation was also part of the conference. Deborah Mates, director of the Foundation, informed attendees how the Foundation will support all levels of education across the country and how bursaries and scholarships for students interested in pursuing welding careers will be disbursed.
“We want to ensure that students who are passionate about welding can attain a higher education and become successful in the profession,” she said. “Through our bursary and scholarship programs, we want to make a difference and this is just one way we’re giving back.”
She also touched on the Foundation goals to support female welders, aboriginals, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.
“Anyone can pursue a profession in welding and sometimes support is needed because of the barriers they encounter,” she said. “That’s why we will support all demographics the best way we can so if someone wants to get into welding, we will do our utmost to support them through various initiatives through the Foundation so they have a great career in this diverse profession.”
Another topic presented by Craig Martin, vice president of CWB Group’s Office of Public Safety focused on programs the CWB Group has in place to work with educational institutions to assist students in obtaining nationally recognized welder qualifications under the CSA W47.1 system.
“We have test centres all across the country in various high schools and post secondary institutions. Our test centres provide students with an edge when they try to enter the workplace because CWB welder qualifications are highly recognized in the Canadian welding industry,” he said. “We encourage schools to take advantage of becoming a test centre because it adds value to their welding program and students feel proud of their accomplishments when they pass their tests.”
To add a hands on component to the conference, Ken McKen, manager of the CWA for Western Canada, hosted a welder practical marking evaluation workshop.
“The intent of this strategic workshop was to create a national template that provides consistent welder practical examination in Canada,” he said. “All the educators were engaged and were receptive to the notion of having a grading system in place that is both consistent and cost effective.”