Investments from industry, education and labour set to spark the nuclear welding workforce of the future


The CWB Welding Foundation, Bruce Power, Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB), Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board (BGCDSB) and UA Canada are announcing an innovative partnership to help local youth access apprenticeships and careers. This collaboration will enhance welding education for secondary school students, forge pathways to good jobs in the welding trade, and develop the skilled welders required to fulfill Bruce Power’s future workforce needs.

In this year alone, the project will benefit more than 650 students from the seven participating schools: Owen Sound District Secondary School (Owen Sound), Walkerton District Community School (Walkerton), Kincardine District Senior School (Kincardine), John Diefenbaker Senior School (Hanover), Sacred Heart High School (Walkerton), Saugeen District Senior School (Port Elgin) and St. Mary’s High School (Owen Sound).

Work is underway to upgrade and modernize welding instruction facilities at the participating schools. Schools will also be provided with welding materials and consumables for project work, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for a safe learning experience while following necessary COVID-19 measures. The upgrades are on track to be completed in December 2020.

Four of the seven schools will be receiving industry-grade multi-process welding machines. This will give welding students the opportunity to get hands-on experience and potentially enter an apprenticeship with a specialized welding industry qualification upon graduation from secondary school.

In addition, some students will have the opportunity to augment their skills by accessing UA Canada and Local 527’s expert trainers in a virtual orientation day and a customized 30-hour training program to be held in the future. This significant contribution from UA Canada will help to further educate students and provide the necessary guidance and opportunities for success in the welding field. Students with a promising aptitude for welding will be identified and potentially offered apprenticeships, as well as pathways to employment.

The collaboration represents a total investment of more than $270,000 (cash and in-kind contributions).

The Canadian welding and fabrication industry is experiencing a shortage of welding professionals, due to an aging Canadian population, a lack of young people being attracted to the skilled trades and the reduced focus on skilled trades training in secondary and post-secondary institutions. Recent labour market surveys indicate strong growth for the welding and joining industry over the next decade and beyond. Nuclear power, shipbuilding, oil and gas, manufacturing and other sectors are acting now by partnering with the CWB Welding Foundation, education and other not-for-profit organizations to address the skills shortage and skills mismatch and build the welding workforce of the future.

“The CWB Welding Foundation has a track record for successfully facilitating partnerships with industry and education to ignite students’ interest in welding as a career and get them prepared for rewarding and in-demand jobs,” said Susan Crowley, Executive Director of the CWB Welding Foundation. “We are proud to be working with Bruce Power, BWDSB, BGCDSB and UA Canada to make a real difference with area students, the local economy and Ontario’s nuclear industry.”

“At Bruce Power, we have been actively working with our industry, union and education partners to increase the supply of high-demand trades in our region,” said Cathy Sprague, Bruce Power’s Executive Vice President, Human Resources. “Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Program is a long-term investment in our nuclear fleet, and will provide quality jobs for high-skilled workers for decades to come.”

“We are extremely excited by the creation of this partnership that serves to further enhance our welding programs, providing the crucial materials, state-of-the-art equipment, training from industry experts, and access to additional resources that will allow our secondary students to flourish,” said Bluewater District School Board Superintendent of Education Paul Hambleton. “The ongoing expansion of our Specialist High Skills Major and Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs in recent years has demonstrated an increasing need for the promotion of skilled trades careers among our students. Thank you to the CWB Welding Foundation, Bruce Power, and UA Canada for supporting these viable pathways, which are essential to tomorrow’s workforce.”

“This is a great opportunity for our students to go beyond the classroom and have an authentic experience in a rich learning environment,” said Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board Superintendent of Education Alex Van Wieringen. “Working with the CWB Welding Foundation will provide them with meaningful connections that can support their future career opportunities within the industry.”

“For the CWB Welding Foundation, Bruce Power and UA Canada to step up and support our local youth and our education system is a blessing for the whole community,” said Mike McCormick, a teacher at Sacred Heart High School. “With the COVID-19 protocols, personal protective equipment and supplies are very much needed to continue students’ learning. The purchase of welders and shop improvements provides the tools necessary to develop the skills for one of the most in-demand jobs in the area. This means that Specialist High Skills Major students are being afforded numerous opportunities, including attaining welding certifications, experiencing reach-ahead programs with UA Canada and ultimately establishing a footprint for a future career.”

“UA Canada is very excited to participate in this collaboration agreement to provide students a pathway to a future in the welding field,” said Ray Lemieux, Training Specialist-Welding, UA Canada. “UA Local 527 has three completely outfitted Welding and Pipe Trades training center locations in Southwestern Ontario, that will be opening their doors to provide necessary theory and practical training and a much clearer pathway for these students as they progress through high school and into welding apprenticeships or other welding related fields. This partnership can provide high school students with real work opportunity and credit towards an Apprenticeship even before they leave school, with a possible future as a welder with their schools’ support and guidance along the way.”