By Glenda McCarthy
Like most first-world nations, Canada has specific rules and regulations which govern fusion welding of steel for structural fabrication in the construction of buildings. As such, welders employed by a Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) certified company must qualify through a CWB practical test every two years. Labrador West campus became a CWB testing facility three years ago, at the behest of the Iron Ore Company of Canada.
Having the testing facility on-site allows students easier access to receive certifications, and according to Mike Penney, who has been a welding instructor at the campus for the past seven years, graduating with that certification increases employability. Students get some time to practice procedures in line with CWB standards
throughout the delivery of CNA’s entry-level Welder program.
“It shows the employers that the students are certified to weld using certain welding processes and procedures. It makes it a lot easier for the students to find employment when they are finished college and start their apprenticeship training towards becoming a journeyperson,” Mike says. “By the time welding students have completed the entry-level program most are quiet capable of passing the CWB certification welder testing. I’m very serious about it because when they go out in industry, it’s not just their reputations on the line but mine as well. If you send people out, and they can’t do something, the employer will ask who their instructors were. We want to make sure they know their stuff before sending them into the workforce.”
Mike, who has over 40 years of experience in the welding trade, believes the high calibre of instruction available at CNA is also a key to each student’s success in their field. “Most instructors have 25 plus years of experience as welders and fabricators and know all the little tricks of the trade,” he says. “The program is not just theory oriented – you have a lot of practical, which is the most important part. You might know all the theory in the world but unless you can actually do it physically with your
hands you aren’t of any great help on a job. For example, you might read up and know in theory how to hang a door on its hinges, but if you have never used a drill you won’t be able to do it.”
Robin Walters, the college’s Dean of Industrial Trades, says the Canadian Welding Bureau will send a representative to the campus to conduct testing for students and industry workers alike. “The college also offers Advanced Welder training courses for CWB practical certification. After completion of these courses the college will make arrangements for these students to do the welder practical testing,” Robin says. CNA has certified testing centres at five campuses. In addition to Labrador West, CWB training is offered through Prince Philip Drive, Port aux Basques, Burin and Placentia campuses. “If a student wishes to get CWB certification they would submit
an application to the test centre and then pay the necessary testing fees,” Robin says. “The CWB testing inspector would come into the test centre on test day to oversee and verify the student’s standard of welding, if they meet the CWB standard they would get a two-year certification. It’s really an add-on to our program.”