Owing to minimal project work being undertaken in the private and public sectors, many companies involved in welding activities are reliant on maintenance projects, says nonprofit technical organisation Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) caretaker executive director Jim Guild.
However, he tells Engineering News that welding, as a major production process – involved in a vast range of industries including construction, automotive, oil and gas, aeronautical, shipping and power generation – still offers “fantastic opportunities” for people of varying educational backgrounds.
Companies are always looking for highly-skilled and well-qualified people; Guild however emphasises that people need to work hard and strive to be exceptional at their craft.
He highlights that the SAIW had a market survey done about a year ago to gauge how many of its students found stable employment after attending the organisation’s courses, and the result was more than 75%.
“There is a shortage of welding industry professionals and a need for highly skilled individuals. The ageing artisan population is disappearing and it needs to be replaced and replenished with people of the same skill level,” Guild emphasises.
The SAIW is developing a strategy to promote welding as a career and encourage people to pursue it. The organisation hosted its first open day earlier this year to enable young people to see what welding and its related technologies can offer them.
Further, as part of its strategy, the SAIW is considering offering an Appreciation of Welding course that will be aimed at providing individuals emerging from school with an introduction to the welding industry. The course will illustrate the practical and career opportunities that the welding industry can offer them.
Guild notes that the SAIW already offers an Appreciation of Welding for Engineers course, which is designed to provide candidates with an overview of welding technology to understand the trade better and make informed decisions.
He adds that the SAIW aims to improve its communication with the industry as well as the general public.
Meanwhile, there is a fair amount of project activity throughout Africa, especially in East Africa and a considerable amount of SAIW’s activity is focused there, including in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Most of the organisation’s activities in Africa involve assisting local organisations to train their people for localisation in their projects, Guild concludes.