One point made by a practicing commercial welder-fabricator "sub'ing" (filling-in for an absent lecturer) at a college is that no company engages in the full range of welding activities necessary to become a fully-fledged welder. An apprentice tied to one company therefore cannot obtain a full skill-set.
In the BC modular welding course with "blocks" of intense training and staged career progression, the welder develops a wide skill range by selecting employment. This is in the flexible and changing market of the various commercial activities in the various geographical locations, made possible by good training supplying qualified welders.
A very interesting and excellent provision in the rules of the BC Welder Training Program.
If you do not have a BC welding qualification (Levels "C", "B" or "A") but believe you have the ability of that particular level, you can "challenge" the qualification. That means, you take the end-of-course exam and make the weld test-pieces of the course. If you pass at both of these and have the requisite work experience as specified for completion at that level, you become a holder of BC welder qualification at that level.
This is commonly invoked in two familiar cases:
The former category tend to find that their skills are only a part of the spectrum of skills in the BC welder qualification. They commonly enrol at a college and obtain the qualification, often at an accelerated rate from being able to quickly dismiss the parts of the course they are already skilled in.
"Arriving in the Province" challengers with high skills, eg a pipeline welder from Manitoba, might be able to challenge through the "C", "B" and "A" levels consecutively in a short space of time.
A regional reason for block full-time attendance on the welding course is that travel distances in Canada are often large. Such as would preclude part-time attendance by way of after-work journeys.
A very reasonable point. There are a minority of people who are excellent welders but do not intellectually command the abstractions represented by orthographic drawing and geometry. There is a concentration of these people in steel construction. They are drawn to this field where necessary theory attaches to a large matrix of knowledge of practice. Denying this rewarding career due to something extrinsic to their ability to work as a welder is undesirable. My suggested solution - there should be a restricted welding-only-endorsed variant of the qualification to cover these cases.
This is a largely historical and defunct objection.
It was represented to me that two categories of employers used to complain that they only needed people to do welds These were the large mills of the logging and paper industries and big shipyards.
However, harder economic times, evolutions in the workplace, etc have brought the mills around to wanting welders with both the "headline" and "adjunct" skills. Regarding the big shipyard employers, as there is no "job for life" guarantee there cannot be a welding-only training policy.
Next - the colleges I visited