Research warns of declining welding skills

Following completion of research undertaken last year on behalf of the British Stainless Steel Association, Director Duncan Munro has suggested the association act to co-ordinate efforts to counter the threat of declining fabrication and welding skills in the industry. The research project carried out by Steel Training, and supported by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, highlighted the increasing reliance of companies on a declining pool of experience, which is not being replaced at an adequate rate to meet future demand. In his address to the Leeds Branch of the Welding and Joining Society, Duncan Munro pointed out the difficulty in attracting and retaining young people to a career in engineering. The lack of uptake and consequent commercial pressure to devote resources to other areas of education, is putting pressure on educational establishments at all levels, encouraging a cycle of declining provision.At the same time, companies are relying more heavily on in-house training.
He went on to say: “We need wider recognition of the increasing significance of stainless steel and to ensure that skills are sufficient to meet growing demand. We need to influence those who establish curricula and set standards of accreditation. We need to put in place a programme to support training providers with suitable material. Those of us in the industry need to encourage initiatives to make engineering, and specifically welding, an attractive vocation to the younger generation. The achievement of these objectives would be facilitated by the creation of a network of interested parties, willing to co-ordinate their efforts to meet this challenge”. Munro highlighted the new BSSA Stainless Steel Specialist Course and skills competitions, such as SkillWeld, co-sponsored by the association, as examples of such initiatives.

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