Hope Secondary’s welding program is growing, giving more students the opportunity to spend time honing their skills.
“Now that every students is able to have the time to be on the welder every class, they’re not having to share with the entire class, they’re able to do more projects with welding,” shop teacher Shelby McLean said.
Students now have access to new welders, lathes, a mill, a new vent system and safety gear that rivals what trade schools have to offer. The equipment was unveiled at an open house Feb. 16., attended by politicians, members of the welding industry and members of the school board.
Shop teacher Cal Chatwin said the students were a little nervous on the new equipment at first. When they realized what they could accomplish with it, it was all smiles.
“The welders we had before were quite good, but this is just another level. This is university level material and equipment,” he said.
“They were really nervous but when they realized what they could do here, the smile on their face never left from the time they walked in to the time they walked out.”
Chatwin said the new welding equipment will likely build more interest in the welding foundations program, run out of a welding trailer at Hope Secondary every second year.
Ray Zervini, owner of Canyon Cables, said he provides welding gear at cost or below cost to the program because he wants students to be prepared for a career before they graduate.
“Once you get out of high school, you go to college and spend a whole pile of money just trying to find out what kind of career choice you want to take,” he said.
“Getting the kids onto a plan for their education and for their careers at an early start is best. Not everyone wants to be a mathematician, not everyone wants to be a scientist. Career programs are very important and we have such a shortage of them.”
Zervini has hired students straight out of high school, including two new employees in the past two weeks.
Andrew Bartlett, technical outreach officer with the Canadian Welding Association Foundation, said there is a severe shortage of welders in Canada.
“Within the next two years, we’re around 100,000 welders short in Canada. It’s not only here in B.C., it’s in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario. All of the provinces are really short,” he said.
The foundation donated $130,000 to the Hope Secondary welding program, in part to fill this shortage of skilled welders.
Zervini said his own business is also affected by the shortage of welders and other skilled tradespeople.
Hope Secondary is currently the only school with this equipment, however high school students from across School District 78 are able to join the welding foundations program at Hope Secondary.
Eight students from Agassiz and Hope recently graduated from the program.
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