HILLSBOROUGH (GNB) – Caledonia Regional High School is one of the latest schools to benefit from an innovative partnership between the Canadian Welding Association Foundation and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

“One of the objectives of our 10-year education plans is to improve access and exposure to trades,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “Partnerships like this help us offer students the chance to develop skills through hands-on experience that they can use in the job market.”

Rogers spoke on behalf of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny.

The department partnered with the foundation to increase opportunities for students to learn welding. To date, three schools that had not previously offered welding have new labs, and existing welding shops in 16 schools have been upgraded.

The foundation is a registered charity that supports the industry by increasing public awareness about welding, and by addressing the shortage of skilled welders in Canada.

“This model partnership with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has enabled the Canadian Welding Association Foundation to expand its work in ensuring that high schools in New Brunswick that wish to offer welding to their students are given this opportunity,” said Deborah Mates, the foundation’s executive director. “Providing welding shops with the proper personal protective equipment is our top priority. Up-to-date equipment to prepare students for the workforce or further education in welding, and providing professional development opportunities for teachers to enhance their skills in welding are also a focus for the foundation”.

The foundation is also assisting with curriculum revisions, and collaborating with high school welding teachers and principals to offer summer welding camps for youth. As well, the partnership was recently extended to enhance learning opportunities for First Nations students.

The government’s 10-year education plans aim to improve educational outcomes and better prepare young people for the future. They set objectives in priority areas to create lifelong learners, support educational leaders and bring stability to the system.