Following four years of CHIETA-funded planning and curriculum development work, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) has released a new artisan-training programme for welders that is now ready for implementation. African Fusion talks to SAIW’s business development manager, Etienne Nell, about this exciting change.

SAIW Welder Training school IIW AccreditedTalking at an education solutions seminar hosted by Lincoln Electric on May 9 and 10, 2017, SAIW’s Etienne Nell presented a talk entitled ‘A Sparking Change’ about the new choices South Africa has made with respect to welder training and certification.

“How many welders do we need in South Africa?” Nell asks as the question of the day. “Welding has been identified as one of the scarce skills in South Africa and a worldwide shortage, with the AWS indicating a shortage of 250 000 skilled welding personnel by 2020,” he says.

Adding to the problem, he says: very few welders are properly qualified and certified; very few meet the required skill level needed for new and existing projects; very few are qualified for the welding processes or for the positions required on these projects; and very few welders or employers understand the term ‘coded welder’.

Which leads directly to the need to do something more to develop skilled welding artisans, because: “welding skills secure employment with excellent financial prospects; new projects require highly skilled welders; of the legislation requirement embedded in our National Health and Safety Standards; and welding skills are required for compliance with quality standards”.

The solution: a quality skills training programme

In introducing the training solution currently being implemented in South Africa, Nell cites three components for a lasting solution to our welding skills problems: Authorised Training Bodies (ATBs); the new Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) curricula for artisan training; and reputable training equipment suppliers, such as Lincoln Electric, Afrox, ESAB, and Fronius.

Facilities accredited by SAIW Certification, which is the International Institute of Welding’s (IIW) Authorised National Body (ANB) in South Africa, are at the starting point of any long-term solution to the welding skills problem. “ANBs seek to achieve excellence in the training, examination and qualification of welders throughout the world,” Nell says.

IIW-accredited training bodies (ATBs) in every member country now follow a detailed welder-training guide called the ‘Bratislava Agreement’, which was developed and agreed by all 56 IIW member countries.

Articulated in full in the IIW Guideline document entitled: ‘International Welder, Minimum Requirements for the Education, Examination and Qualification’, the Bratislava Agreement seeks to achieve ‘harmonisation in the training, examination and qualification testing of welders in the world. It provides for the assessment of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, the latter being linked to the requirements of ISO 9606 (or equivalent standard) ...’

“The new South African QCTO curriculum, is 90% based on the Bratislava Agreement,” says Nell, which makes it a truly international curriculum.

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