‘Weld’ up with opportunities: Local fabrication plant recruits from NC classroom

 

Ryan Giesler (right), who will graduate from Niagara College’s Welding Technician program on June 17, and his corworker Branden Sterling (also a NC welding grad, class of 2014) have already begun working full-time at St. Catharines fabrication plant, Trenergy.

Ryan Giesler didn’t have to scour Help Wanted ads before landing a position with a local company; they hired him right from the classroom.

The 11-year-old  was one of 16 students to graduate from Niagara College’s Welding Technician program on June 17 that have already begun working full-time in their chosen field at Trenergy Inc., a  St. Catharines-based fabrication plant. Representatives from the company turned to Niagara College when they needed to hire a group of welders this spring – and fast. Helen Ens-George, the company’s Human Resources administrator, noted that representatives from the company visited the College’s welding class in April when their typical recruitment strategy proved to be too time consuming and applicant success rates were lower than anticipated. Students were interviewed on the spot and the group was hired immediately upon the completion of the program.

“We hired almost every student we met,” said Ens-George.

The soon-to-be graduates, as well as three recent NC grads, were employed as tank line production welder assembler trainees for the company which builds AAR Certified tank cars for the rail industry.

Giesler was excited to land a job before graduation and found that his instructors prepared him well. “We learned a great amount of theory and gained the practical experience needed to excel in the industry,” he said.

The Pembroke native enrolled in NC’s two-year Welding Technician program after working for two-and-a-half years as a construction flagman.

“I was interested in this program because I wanted to get into the trades due to all the work opportunities available and the many different jobs/careers I could pursue after finishing the program,” he said.

The College’s Welding coordinator Don Gemmell noted the mass hiring at Trenergy was an excellent opportunity for students to gain full-time employment with a well-known and reputable steel fabricator. He noted that with a shortage of qualified available welders, companies like Trenergy have been turning to Niagara College students to fill a demand for production and maintenance welders, steel fitters, welding technicians, NDE inspectors, visual welding inspectors, quality assurance, welding consumables, and gas sales. And it’s not only local companies. Those from outside the province such as Alberta-based Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada, have conducted distance interviews to hire Niagara College graduates as well. “Both our one-year Welding Techniques and two-year Welding Technician programs offer the required skills allowing our graduating students the opportunity for a smooth transition into the workforce,” said Gemmell.

Trenergy has hired NC grads in the past and plans to continue the practice based on their attitude and performance, said Ens-George. “We feel that Niagara College has provided their graduates with the knowledge and understanding of welding processes necessary for them to be successful on the job. In addition, the practical experience Niagara College provides has given the students a leg up on passing their 3G weld test,” she said. “The combination of theoretical and practical education Niagara College graduates are equipped with make them ideal candidates for Trenergy’s fast paced dynamic environment.”

Giesler recommends NC’s welding program to anyone considering a career in the skilled trades.

“What I find rewarding about this field of work is the money that can be made in this trade, and the chance to always improve and learn new things,” he said. “There will always be a chance to move up the ladder; you just have to be a hard worker and dedicated to getting the work done effectively.”

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