The impact of welding is evident in developed nations such as Finland, Germany, USA, UK, Japan, France, Denmark etc., as it serves as the back-bone for infrastructural development and industrialization for socio-economic gain.
Finland with a population of 5.6 million people trains over 500 qualified welders and additional 200 welding professionals each year. Similar trend is been observed in less populated European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, etc.
Huge infrastructural projects such as in the civil sector, energy sector, oil and gas sector, automotive sector, and aerospace have been feasible as a result of the application of welding. It is, therefore, obvious that welding plays a significant role in infrastructural development geared towards sustainability and economic growth.
However, Ghana with a population of about 30 million people trains less than 20 qualified welders and welding professionals each year. These statistics show that Ghana has a fundamental problem in fulfilling her sustainable development goals for industrialization in the metal industry.
The neglect of effective welding training and qualification in the metal industry somewhat has contributed to high un-employment rate especially among the Ghanaian youth. The need to build capacity of Ghanaians in qualified welding programs to make them employable in sectors such as the oil and gas, mining, agribusiness, construction, etc. is very essential.
Statement of Problem
Ghana is far behind in welding training, qualification and certification. For this reason, the nation lacks well qualified welders and welding professionals with employable skills which the major industrial sectors need.
Considering the vast amount of welding construction and manufacturing jobs available in industrial sectors such as the oil and gas, infrastructure as well as jobs that can be created in other industrial sectors such as agribusiness, automobile, energy, etc., Ghana is still experiencing high un-employment rate, especially among the youth. To site few worrying examples:
during the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah interchange at Circle between the year 2013-2016, it was estimated that, the Brazilian contractor Queiroz Galvao needed about 300 Ghanaian welders for the fabrication and welding jobs of the steel-beam bridge. Out of the 300 Ghanaian welders needed, only 30 welders gained employment, despite over 500 Ghanaian welders showing up. Meaning, 90% of the Ghanaian welders who showed up for the welding fabrication and construction job were un-qualified and lost the chance to be employed on a project worth 74 million Euros.
companies in the oil and gas sector in Ghana are constantly looking for pipe welders, plate welders, and under-water welders to be employed for pipeline project jobs, welding jobs on the rigs offshore, etc. However, because of the lack of such expert welders in Ghana, the companies are compelled to bring to Ghana foreign welding experts to pick up such jobs. Per observations and discussions with some of the company heads, Ghana needs over 10,000 qualified welders for existing and new jobs in the oil and gas sector, but the manpower is not available.
Discussion and recommendations
There have been several attempts by trade associations, technical and vocational institutions, technical institutions at the tertiary education level and some other private NGO's to train welders to become employable or be self-employed. As observed, such welding training programs have received huge financial supports from organizations such as the Council for Technical Vocational Education and Training (COTVET), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Swedish International Development (Sida), United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), Christian Aid and the European Union (EU). Although welding training from such training institutions are beneficial and support in creating welding skills and economic opportunities, however, welders who complete the welder training programs are not qualified to any standard.
In the world of welding, welders are supposed to be qualified to ISO 9606 standard or similar codes such as American Welding Society (AWS), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), or American Petroleum Institute (API). Meaning, welders have to pass Welders Qualification Tests (WQT), thus be able to work according to Welding Procedure Specifications (WPS).
It is, therefore, a recommendation that whiles developing partners, government agencies and international and domestic companies in Ghana provide huge sums of dollars to support basic skills training in professional trades such as welding:
the need to build capacity of welders to acquire qualified welding training should be considered and prioritized. This is important because such welder qualification training allows welders to become highly competitive, productive and employable in industrial sectors such as the oil and gas, construction, mining, energy, agribusiness, etc.
the need to laise and encourage training of welding experts and allied professionals in internationally accredited welder training centres should be considered. According to observations made, there are few accredited welder training centres in Ghana, that is, Mudiame Ghana Limited (www.mudiame.com) having its local office in Ghana and site laboratory in Lagos, Nigeria, Danest Engineering Limited located in Takoradi (www.danestweldgh.com), and Welder Training Centre at Reginal Maritime University.
As a case example, On the 7th April 2019, it was reported by ModernGhana that, AKER Energy has announced to inject 4.5 million dollars to support the accelerated oil and gas capacity building (AOGC) programme under the auspices of Petroleum Commission, Ghana.
It is of a humbly recommendation to policy makers and industry players that the welding training module captured under the AOGC program should focus on training qualified welders to be employable in the oil and gas sector.It can be anticipated that similar financial supports will be available for capacity building, and that for welding training should be geared towards training qualified welders.