Welding apprenticeship receives government approval

The government has approved two new apprenticeship standards developed by a group of companies including The Welding Institute.

On 21 August, as part of a series of announcements relating to national apprenticeships, David Cameron formally approved both the apprenticeship standard for welding (level 2) – general welder (arc processes), and the apprenticeship standard for welding (level 3) – multi-positional welder (arc processes).

The official approval of the two standards is the culmination of a year’s work by the Welding Apprenticeship Employer Group, a consortium of employers, skills councils, professional bodies and trade organisations that has developed the new standards to improve and homogenise the quality of welding training for apprentices.

The group was formed to develop new standards under the government’s trailblazer initiative, which seeks to transform apprenticeships in the UK by giving employers and relevant trade organisations the power to determine their content.

The initiative has provided an opportunity to harmonise the current, fragmented provision and to develop a single uniform set of apprenticeship standards for welding that can address competence issues across a range of sectors. The need for competence in welding is critical for compliance with a number of key European standards and directives, and international standards for manufacture and construction.

Each standard contains a description of the role profile; the requirements in terms of theoretical knowledge, practical skills and behaviours; entry requirements; duration; and progression beyond completion of the apprenticeship. The standards offer flexibility in terms of welding processes, parent materials and welding positions, so that employers can select only those modules that are relevant to their products. A practical skill test, in accordance with a recognised standard such as ISO 9606, is an integral part of both standards.

Tim Jessop, associate director of The Welding Institute and co-ordinator of the welding apprenticeship trailblazer said, ‘The approval of these standards represents a major step forward in the recognition of welding as a key skill for the UK and in ensuring that UK welding apprenticeships match the best in the world.’

Although the standards have received formal approval, they cannot be introduced until an accompanying assessment plan has been drafted for each. Work on these plans is underway and it is expected that they will be ready for submission in the next few weeks.