FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Welding on Wheels trailer has moved to Rothesay High School for the second semester after spending its first semester at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development partnered with the CWB Welding Foundation, Ocean Steel & Construction Ltd. and Source Atlantic Ltd. to create a portable welding trailer, giving high school students in New Brunswick valuable experiential learning opportunities.

The schools have qualified welding instructors, but no welding facility for students.

“New Brunswick’s high school students will play an important part in filling the more than 130,000 job openings that we anticipate having in the next 10 years,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “This trailer helps students explore a career in welding and fabrication, but also gives them the chance to build their skills and gain valuable experience they can carry with them after graduation.”

The trailer was completed last summer and accommodates 16 students with eight welding booths, plus a grinding and cutting station, as well as a weld testing area. The $240,000 cost of building the trailer was split equally among the partners.

The trailer will be moved each semester to schools lacking the appropriate facilities.

“CWB Welding Foundation is passionate about providing access to welding education to students,” said foundation executive director Susan Crowley. “The mobile welding trailer will provide otherwise non-existent opportunities for youth to engage in hands-on experiential education in welding. Welding on Wheels will serve as a pillar for Atlantic Canada’s youth exploring welding education and provide a gateway to skilled trades.”

According to the foundation, the Canadian welding and fabrication industry is experiencing a shortage of welding professionals due to an aging population, a lack of young people being attracted to the skilled trades, and a 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.

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

“Welding on Wheels is an innovative concept that we hope will spark an appreciation in practical skills for our young people in New Brunswick,” said Ocean Steel & Construction and Source Atlantic chairman and CEO John Irving. “Whether as a foundation for a career choice or solely as exposure to another skill, this hands-on training as part of a complete education will be invaluable.”

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.