The global welder shortage is a growing and well-known phenomenon.
A recent article – Global welder shortage – viewpoints from three continents asked for the opinions of specialists in three continents on this topic. Their insight on welder shortages were as follows:
- Welders are more in demand than ever,
- The manufacturing industry will continue being important, or even increase in size (especially in Europe). This is because there is a shift in companies trying to ensure their supply chain is more local, and
- There is a strong need for institutes and schools to actively continue investing in training and education, and ensure that welding programs are adapted to the needs of the industry.
Is this a problem for New Zealand?
In order to answer this question, we conducted a survey on more than 200 of our HERA members involved in welding fabrication.
We asked a variety of questions, and the 46 responses received are summarised as follows:
Do you think there is a shortage of full time welders currently?
- Yes: 72%
- No: 28%
What level of expertise/qualification/training do you require from welders?
- AS/NZS 9606.1&AS/NZS2980: 27%
- AS/NZS 9606.1&AS/NZS2980 with job knowledge to AS/NZS 1554.1: 41.6%
- Trade Qualification e.g. Level 4: 35%
Would you support a Level 4 Welding Trade Qualification?
- Yes: 73.4
- Maybe: 22.4%
Why is it hard to find skilled welders?
- Welders are not being trained for work placement only to get a (welding) pass.
- Aging workforce.
- We are based in a smaller region and the cost of living is expensive in relation to wages. Not easy to attract trades staff.
- Shortage of skilled people out there and not enough want to get into the industry.
Are there any other areas of engineering welders/fabricators should be trained for?
- We have a greater need for Fabricators. We train welders to become fabricator welders.
- Good fabricators are a rarity.
- Fabrication, This is a lost art. The welding is easily trained.
- Not enough apprenticeships. Good trades people who can weld are harder to find than just welders.
The future is bright for welders!
While some of the issues highlighted above are “home-grown”, the underlying factors for welders shortage are the same:
- ageing workforce, and
- shortage of skilled and motivated applicants.
One message is consistent across the survey, welder is expected to have a wider skills set covering different areas of fabrication and applicable standards. There is great demand for Trade Qualified welders. The possibilities for continuous learning in welding are wide considering the advances in welding automation, processes, power sources and Welding 4.0 technologies.
The above article highlights that “ The future of welders on all continents looks bright. Welders are more in demand than ever, and the manufacturing industry will continue being important.” It is a promising future scenario we to look forward to. We have great work ahead of us.
Education and state-of-the -art training for local students should be at the core of solving the welder/fabricator shortage. HERA supports welding-education programmes in New Zealand by providing Welders Training Modules and a range of professional development courses such as ASNZS 2214 Welding Supervisor and Welding Inspector that can be undertaken by welders to advance their careers. We will increase our support to welders training by providing Job Knowledge Training to AS/NZS ISO 9606.1 online and a range of training webinars next year. Stay tuned.