Success at Record Young Welder

With 20 participants, the Young Welder of the Year (YWOY) 2015 was the largest in the history of the competition. It was, therefore, an even more special victory for the ultimate winner, Jaco van Deventer, who will now represent South Africa at the WorldSkills competition to be held in Sao Paolo, Brazil in August 2015.

“I am very excited to have won this historical event,” says Jaco. “It’s an honour to get the chance to represent the South African welding industry at the WorldSkills competition and a bonus for my welding career to have won this prestigious event.”

Jaco says he loves welding. “I’ve always been good with my hands and I like working on practical projects. But more and more I enjoy the science of welding, which is so interesting across so many materials and applications,” Jaco says.

YWOY convener, SAIW’s Etienne Nell, says that the quality of the welding this year matched the quantity. “Each year we see an improvement in the standards of the young welder and 2015 was no exception,” Etienne says. “I was particularly impressed with the winners of the various categories and, of course, Jaco’s work was outstanding. We have high hopes for him to do well in Sao Paolo where he will be up against the best young welders in the world.”

SAIW executive director Jim Guild says that the Institute will definitely continue with the YWOY. “We have to continue encouraging the youth of South Africa to see welding for what it is – an exciting and potentially lucrative career. Welding is ubiquitous. It is involved in up to 98% of manufacturing processes and it offers opportunities for people who may have a Grade 10 education to people who have a PhD.

“From a SAIW perspective the youth will continue to be a major part of our focus and the YWOY a central initiative within this focus area. We need to get as many young South Africans skilled in the various disciplines that welding offers in order to reduce our reliance on importing these skills.

“When we have such a high rate of unemployment and an industry like welding that can almost always offer a job to someone with the right skills, it seems a real shame that we continue to have to import welders from other countries. This Institute, through the YWOY and many other initiatives, remains dedicated to reversing this trend,” says Guild.

SAIW GM Operations Sean Blake concurs saying that despite the major shock to the economy in 2008 and the lingering economic challenges we continue to face in 2015, welding still remains a very viable career. “Because it is so widely used in industry, welding is still – in terms of employment and a career – one of the best hedges against a struggling economy,” says Blake.

SAIW President Morris Moroga says that the YWOY competition plays a crucial role in finding the young stars of the future in welding. “The stories are numerous of those who have done well in the competition going on to stellar careers in welding and it is important that the SAIW, the competition sponsors and the welding industry generally continue to support this initiative for the sake of the development of our youth,” concluded Moroga.