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Upskilling and Skills Gaps in Welding

In a 2019 study of skills shortages and demands by region, it was found that there is an excess of welders in Scotland, but a shortage in England and Wales. Here, we’re looking at the stats across the Kingdom and what we can do as both a community and industry to improve and grow.

apprentice welder

Welding Can Be Lucrative

In the UK, work in welding can be quite lucrative with annual salaries starting around £22k, averaging around £25k, and rocketing up to over £30k for the best of the best. This makes welding quite a profitable career path, but there are gaps in the market across the UK, which could eventually be filled by promising teenagers considering vocational careers. We need to consider why welding isn’t seen as an attractive career prospect by the younger generations – despite the high wages – and how we can encourage today’s youth to take up the torch.

The Welding Skills Shortage

There are job vacancies and restrictions across all sectors in our Kingdom, with London and the North West reporting the highest percentage of vacancies, but Northern Ireland and Scotland falling fairly below average., as shown in this infographic study.

When it comes to welding vacancies specifically, the stats remain largely the same with the North West experiencing a severe lack of welding professionals, meaning that there are more opportunities for welders looking for work in the North West than anywhere else in the UK.

In contrast to the North West, welders in Scotland face much higher competition with vacancies falling 40% below the national average. Welders in London will also struggle, with vacancies here also falling under 20% below average.

This means that welders may need to move to a more profitable region if they want to find better work. Top areas for welding in 2019 include the North West, Wales, and the West Midlands – all areas with over 80% national average vacancies, and areas that could benefit from improving vocational routes for young people in education.

Teaching Students Vocational Pathways

In the UK, many children feel that there is a stigma against vocational learning and that they should aim for university and academic pursuits, however, this isn’t always the best path for individuals – or the local area – as more skills shortages appear in certain sectors.

In America, a school in the Arizona desert demonstrates how capturing students’ passions for welding can overcome many barriers. Despite the desert location, this school specialises in thoroughly training students with the skills they need to weld underwater. This is achieved from the middle of the desert by utilising deep tanks with gallons of water – but none of this would be possible without the dedication of its students and teachers.

welding underwater

The success of this school is at least partially dependent on the opinion of its students and teachers on the importance of welding as a career choice – specifically underwater. Without being taught that this career is fulfilling and worthy from a young age, this school might struggle to gain interest from prospective pupils – an issue that manufacturing in the UK currently faces, along with many other practical skills-based careers.

One of the greatest draws for this career is the astronomical wages, reaching between $50,000 and $120,000 for first jobs, offering students a very promising future in exchange for the years they spend in training and hard, dangerous work.

In the UK, we need to inspire our young to pursue careers in STEM, as well as teaching them practical skills in lessons and clubs. The youth today may achieve some experience of welding in science, or design and technology, or even very rarely in an art class. They are more likely to learn about welding from dedicated BTECs, but many in the career would argue that this is too late to try to inspire a love of welding in the individual.

welding tools

We are welding gas suppliers for many businesses and hobbyists, but we could also supply for schools, colleges and youth groups looking to provide the youth of Britain with applicable skills. With so many vacancies around the country, perhaps there is room in education for more people to learn about the power of welding.