The sounds of buzzing, sawing, scraping and crackling fill the air in the bustling Claremont secondary metal shop.
At the back, Brian Hatt welds behind a curtain to gain some valuable fabrication experience. Outside, a group of students fire up a gas torch to put the finishing touch on a miniature sculpture of a tree stump.
At the centre of the shop, four students file down the heads and handles of their soon-to-be hobby hammers, while next to them, Sebastien Guillemette tweaks the settings on a drill press.
All are on different stages of the same assignment, and will use one of five new multiprocess welders, purchased for Claremont by the Canadian Welding Association Foundation.
“You can tell when you’re using the new welders that they burn hotter and weld faster than the old ones,” Guillemette says. “They do everything and they’re easy to use.”
The Grade 11 student is interested in welding as a potential career and is trying it out as he weighs his options. Students at Claremont, of course, can get an early jump on the trade through a partnership with Camosun College.
The new welders come from a $300,000 commitment to the Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Shore (North Vancouver) school districts over the next three years.
“We did a needs-based assessment of the school shops in the area and found Claremont could really use these welders,” said Trent Konrad, the CWAF’s outreach officer for Western Canada. Konrad is a welder turned educator with CWAF who helps implement programs and resources for school-aged children.
“CWAF does more than just drop off the welders, we visit schools on Pro-D days to train the teachers on new equipment, and we run additional programs for youth, for women, and for Aboriginals,” Konrad said.
Earlier this year the CWAF co-sponsored a Mind Over Metal welding camp at the Saanichton Individual Learning Centre campus, with the Coast Salish Employment Training Society the other sponsor.
Stelly’s and Parkland will also get new equipment from the CWAF funding, which comes in part from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in conjunction with Seaspan. The latter is looking to attract top talent as it forecasts a need of welders for manufacture and repair over the next 60 years.