FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has partnered with the CWB Welding Foundation, Ocean Steel & Construction Ltd. and Source Atlantic Ltd. to build a portable welding trailer to give high school students in New Brunswick valuable experiential learning opportunities.

The $240,000 total cost to build the trailer will be split equally between the partners.

“Ensuring all students across the province have access to hands-on learning opportunities, particularly in the trades, is crucial to positioning New Brunswick students for long-term success,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “By partnering with industry leaders, we are able to provide students in every community with access to a high-quality learning environment for experiential learning. This mobile welding unit will enable students to gain valuable experience that can help them get a head start in preparing for the workforce or for post-secondary training and education.”

Construction will begin in the spring of 2021 with work continuing through the summer. The trailer is expected to be ready for use in September 2021. It will be able to accommodate 16 students with eight welding booths plus a grinding and cutting station as well as a weld testing area.

The trailer will first be used for a full semester at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton as the high school has a qualified welding instructor but no welding facility. From there, it will be moved between schools, both urban and rural, that lack appropriate facilities to deliver welding courses.

“Part of our mandate is to reduce barriers to welding education for Canadian students, and this portable welding trailer will allow students who might not have had the opportunity to experience welding for themselves,” said CWB Welding Foundation executive director Susan Crowley. “Welding is a gateway to endless opportunities in the skilled trades and STEM careers. Thanks to the contributions and leadership of our partners at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, OSCO and Source Atlantic, young people will be able to explore welding and see where it can take them in their careers and in life.”

According to the CWB Welding Foundation, the Canadian welding and fabrication industry is experiencing a shortage of welding professionals, due to an aging Canadian population, a lack of young people being attracted to the skilled trades and the reduced focus on skilled trades training in secondary and post-secondary institutions. Recent labour market surveys indicate strong growth for the welding and joining industry and the entire construction sector over the next decade and beyond.

“Creating opportunities for our students to explore careers in the trades is important but simply adding and installing infrastructure in schools is not enough,” said Cardy. “This partnership is a great example of how the government can work with industry to meet the needs of our changing labour market.”

Students who use the trailer will benefit from online curriculum and industry-standard teacher training delivered through the CWB Welding Foundation. In addition to welding instruction, students will learn about apprenticeship pathways and career opportunities in welding and related trades and professions.

“Ocean Steel and Source Atlantic are successful, long-term New Brunswick-based businesses which want to support the next generation of New Brunswick students,” said Ocean Steel & Construction and Source Atlantic Chairman and CEO John Irving. “We believe it is important to show them the opportunities and career paths that are available here in our province and help them develop the skills needed to be successful. Ocean Steel and Source Atlantic are pleased to be part of this exciting, first of its kind project for our New Brunswick high school students.”

Increasing experiential learning opportunities supports the 10-year education plans and Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick. Building a world-class education system to ensure students can reach their full potential is a government priority.