by Stella Shepard
Craig Boudreau, Welding Fabrication Learning Manager at Holland College, Georgetown Centre is busily building industry relationships with Island companies eager to hire skilled Welder Fabricators as entry-level employees.
“The Metal Trades Fabrication sector on PEI has been extremely busy and is eager to work with us to find competent workers,” says Craig. “Over the past few years, I have met with many manufacturing facilities, managers, and owners. They are actively looking to hire, and we sometimes can’t fill their needs. Holland College needs more students to train in this field.
“The surprising amount of interest communicated to us here in Georgetown from these companies has helped us to improve our programming, which has provided skilled Welding Fabricators as entry-level employees.”
The two-year Welding Fabrication program is attracting females, newcomers, and people of all ages within the Maritimes. Students are being recruited by fabricating companies and are often hired while still in the program because of industry demand.
“Interest in the Welding Fabrication program is growing. There are 36 students currently in the program, and we have seats for 12 more.
“As things get back to normal after COVID-19, a pent-up demand will stimulate more construction over the next few years, putting pressure on hiring more trained trades people in general and welder fabricators specifically.”
“Most companies require applicants to do a performance test job to prove their welding ability,” says Craig. “Wages are based on work performance, skillsets, their resumé, work experience, and references.”
“Wages are good within the industry. A first-year student could earn $15 to $18 an hour. A second-year student could earn $15 to $20 an hour, starting out. An experienced worker could earn $20 to $33 an hour. Wages vary among individual companies.”
West Prince Campus
Devon Bernard is the Learning Manager of the Welding Fabrication Year 1 program at Holland College West Prince in Alberton. Upon completion of Welding 1, students may opt to continue to build on their skills in the second year of the Welding Fabrication program offered at the Georgetown Centre. Students can also choose to continue to work in industry learning hands on, and then come back to the West Prince Campus for Block Release.
“At the West Prince campus, we have the capacity to take 15 students. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welding Fabrication Year 1 program was offered in a blended model. Students still had lots of shop time, being on campus three full days a week for hands-on learning, with the remaining course work offered online.”
Students of the Welding program at West Prince campus will soon be going out to the workforce for four weeks of on-the-job training. “Welding companies have a growing need for Welders and take students for on-the-job placements. Students who take the first-year course are getting hired right after graduation.
“With new shops and expansions of existing shops, the need for Welders all over the Island is increasing every year.”
Livingston Steel is a family-owned business specializing in the manufacturing and erection of industry structural steel products. There are company locations in Charlottetown and Summerside.
“Welding fabrication companies on the Island are hiring students from the Holland College programs,” says Paul Livingston, President of Livingston Steel. “Our company, along with many others, offer on-the-job training to the students. Many times, this can lead to full-time employment after they complete their training.
Paul’s suggestions to attract more students to the trades
- Recruitment at the high school level
- Integrate the idea of trades and construction early in the education system and emphasize the need for skilled workers within all trades
- Offer financial assistance to those who want to pursue welding fabrication careers but can’t afford to continue their education
- Employers need to offer increased job security and good pay
- Employers need to foster a company culture that ensures employees are content in their work environment.
Charlottetown Metal Products (CMP) located in Milton provides hygienically designed food processing equipment to major food manufacturers such as Cavendish, McCain’s, and Hostess, to name a few.
“We have seen incredible growth in our sector, which has contributed to our staff doubling in size in the last 18 months,” says James Gillelan, Production Manager. “CMP hires as many Holland College welding fabrication students as we can.
“Every October, we visit the Holland College campuses and talk with students about CMP and about the trades to better prepare them for what to expect in the workplace. We work closely with the Learning Managers, who recommend students based on our company’s needs.”
As well, when hiring, CMP looks for employees with pleasing personalities, a good attitude, and drive, who will fit in nicely with company culture and enhance it. “The company recently hired six Holland College Welding Fabrication students after they completed the on-the-job training component of their program. They don’t graduate until May, but they are already CMP employees.
“CMP has an in-house training program to enhance the skills of our Welding Fabricators. As well, incoming staff work with more advanced Welders who share their knowledge and skill sets.
“CMP pays $16 an hour to graduates coming out of the Welding Fabrication program at Holland College,” says James. “Our top rate is very competitive with other shops on the Island. We base this rate on an employee’s education, experience, skillset, and personality.”
DME Brewing Solutions has specialized in making equipment for the brewery sector for almost 30 years and sells its products to customers around the world. DME plans, designs, fabricates, manages, and executes each unique brewery project.
“For DME is it extremely important to have a local source of qualified/skilled Welders we can hire,” says Marc De Jong, Managing Director, DME. “The only way our business grows is by producing more products, and for that we need skilled Welders. Going off Island to recruit is not desirable as it poses different challenges and costs such as relocation costs and possible flight risks should they be offered a new job in their hometown.
“On PEI we always face the allure of ‘going out West’ to make typically more per hour. To combat this, at DME we strive to provide stability with good hourly rates to allow them to stay home.
“At DME we strictly only weld stainless steel and other non carbon metals to a consumer product level of finish. It is not rough iron work where the welds are not visible in the final product. Our welds are visible or fully ground smooth to produce a very sanitary and clean finish. This finishing work is something that we require and is a skill in itself.
“I would say that the welding trade is a demanding job, and there will always be good paying work whether it be on the Island or abroad. Specializing in stainless steel welding will open up more opportunities as these qualified welders are always in high demand.”
For more information about Holland College, Georgetown Welding Fabrication click here.
For more about the Welding Fabrication program at West Prince campus, click here.
For more information about Livingston Steel, visit www.livingstonsteel.com
For more information about Charlottetown Metal Products, visit www.cmpequipment.com
For more information about DME Process Systems Ltd., visit www.dme.ca