Skip to main content

Fresh supply of welders on the way to fill Alberta industry demand


A new welding program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is preparing to graduate its first batch of welders, with employers saying there are more than enough jobs to greet them.

Industry experts say high demand for welders is driving up enrollment in welding programs at NAIT, and that new apprentices are ready to start filling gaps in the workforce.

Larry Toews, a welding instructor at NAIT, said interest in welding and enrollment in apprenticeships are tied to how many jobs there are to fill. When the economy is slow, demand for training drops because there aren't enough positions to attract new talent in the field.

"If the employers are signing up apprentices and creating jobs, then we're going to see the increased enrollment in order to do that," he said.

"The reason for the drop off, I believe, was industry demand and the economy. And it goes in peaks and valleys, and it seems to be coming back now."

Due to the shortage of qualified tradespeople in the province, and the time needed to train new welders, some welding companies have said they're having to recruit internationally to fill positions.

Mike Smith, chair of the new Advanced Welding Technology diploma program at NAIT, said he understands the need of industry to react but he believes there is plenty of talent to pull from in Canada and Alberta.

“I think it would be much better for our people and also for our population base if we were to try to put a little more effort into securing employment for our domestic workforce,” Smith said.

Carlos Rojas travelled to Edmonton from Chile so that he could study welding at NAIT. The current shortage of workers, he said, is good news for him and other graduates.

"Hopefully I'm going to get a job right away," he said. "You know, study something and get a job right away, I think is the desire of every student."

Another student, Brandon Cardinal, is in his second year of the NAIT apprenticeship program. He said through an interpreter that he's hoping to fill gaps in more advanced welding fields, like pipe welding and b-pressure welding.

"There's a lot of companies that have availabilities because of the shortage, looking for different skills and stuff. So that means a lot of opportunities for myself," Cardinal said. "It's very exciting."

The advanced welding diploma is a two-year program and is expecting between 15 and 20 graduates in April.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Marek Tkach Top Stories

Stay Connected