In a classroom at BWS Manufacturing, a heavy haul trailer company in Centreville, NBCC students are patiently waiting to hear the words that get the sparks flying.
“All right, let’s head down to the shop!”
After a morning of theory, the participants in NBCC’s fourth cohort of a 12-week MIG welding microcredential program are eager to fire up their spool guns and spark their passion for learning.
“Sitting here is comfy,” says student Josiah Samayoa with a wide grin as he gathers up his gear. “Down there (in the shop) is fun!”
Josiah and his classmates are part of an ongoing collaboration between NBCC, BWS, Working NB, and Opportunities NB to provide learners with a quick, accessible, and flexible reskilling opportunity while also providing industry with a skilled talent pool. Throughout 2021, four cohorts of MIG welders, with an average of 10 students in each, graduated from the program with the skills to help BWS and other companies in the region fill the growing need for trained welders.
“Employees are any company’s number one asset,” said Todd Saunders, vice-president human resources at BWS. “As a manufacturer, we are looking forward to providing industry access to more skilled labour.”
Several graduates from the program are now working on the shop floor at BWS, including Josiah’s brother.
“I heard about this program from him,” Josiah said. “He told me about it and encouraged me to try it out. I decided it was a good option for me to learn a lot of new skills, get a trade under my belt, and who knows? Maybe end up working right here with my brother.”
For student Joshua Barker, the MIG welding microcredential was an opportunity to change his career path before he had invested too much time in a field that wasn’t inspiring him.
“I was taking a course at the Fredericton Campus and I pretty quickly realized that type of work was not for me,” he said. “I told my employment counsellor what I was interested in and they told me about this. So far, I’m loving it. It’s a great course.”
The MIG Welding program was offered at no cost to students and with more accessible entrance requirements than NBCC’s on-campus one-year delivery of Welding and Metal Fabrication, for a broader audience of potential students. Bringing post-secondary education to more New Brunswickers is a huge priority for NBCC, said Mary Butler, President and CEO of NBCC.
“We believe every New Brunswicker should have the opportunity to develop the skills to fully participate in meaningful work, and that our businesses should have access to the teams and talent they need to grow and compete here at home and around the world,” said Butler. “Enhancing the social and economic prosperity of our province is NBCC’s purpose. We do this by providing opportunities for people to achieve their potential as skilled, in-demand workers.”