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Welder training for the diving industry

Photo shows a diver welding under a ships hull.
The diving industry is unique in how it operates, with regards to its personnel. Unlike an engineering employer, who takes on apprentices, obtains Government funding for day release or full/part-time education, where an apprentice may be rewarded with a National Qualification. The diving industry mainly operates through sub-contract or self-employed routes, so the 'standard' route to education and qualification is not normally available (unless already qualified). This places the emphasis for any qualifications firmly with the individual diver, not the employer. Welding is an important skill for the diving industry and such recognition and availability is essential to industry.

In welding, the term 'qualification' tends to have a specific meaning, which is simply understood as a 'coding' i.e. a practical weld test in which the welder demonstrates their physical skills and abilities. Of course, this element of the welder's ability is essential, as welding is a craft-skill and physical ability is a major part of the job. But remember, for normal engineering industries, this physical skill is supplemented with a number of years studying at college i.e. ONC/HNC/HND, etc. and most importantly, a management structure exists where foreman, senior engineers, supervisors and inspectors are employed by the company; and ultimately, the responsibility for welding does not lay with the welder himself. This type of structure does not generally exist within an inshore or offshore diving company.

A diver-welder may find himself the only competent welding person on-site, thus, it is essential he has a more extensive understanding/knowledge of the subject of welding, than simply being able to deposit nice looking welds. Another problem for the diving industry is people are attracted from all sorts of backgrounds, with engineering being only a minority. Thus, the physical skill factor, although crucially important, is not in itself sufficient to provide industry with the next generation of competent, skilled welder-divers, divers with a minimum standard of competency in welding; which needs to include safety, techniques, materials, weldability, electrodes, terminology, plant/equipment, weld defects and a basic understanding of metallurgy and knowledge of welding standards etc.
There is more to welding than just burning a rod!

Because most divers are self-employed and responsible for their own training/qualifications, unless they put themselves through college, there is limited opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to meet future industry demands or even progress and extend their knowledge base. As we know, once you are in the workplace, it becomes very difficult to attend college. One course of action is through Speciality Enterprises, who have developed an 80 hour welding training programme, calied "The WeldCraft-Pro".
This course follows the Eu­ropean Welding Federation (EWF) guidelines (570-01) for fillet welding of plate. The actual certificate of verified achievement is issued by EAL, the UK's largest engineering and ma­rine training authority, issuing over 80% of all the UK's engineering qualifications. The actual welding qualification (coding) is for a fillet weld on plate to BSEN ISO 15618-1: 2016 and/or AWS D3.6-2010.

The programme is also recognised by IMarEST and is the only competency assessed underwater welding course that meets all of industries current demands. Trainingis currently provided through a network of approved diver training schools, in the UK, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, South Africa, Australia, Norway. With new schools in Spain and Poland due to join the scheme shortly.
The training is as compact as possible and is based on an 80 hour/10.5 day programme. It is crucial that industry attracts the right caliber of individual, but equally important, industry needs to ensure the right training programmes exist to ensure and maintain the right caliber of people exist to serve it. Speciality Enterprises is doing its bit for Britain, Europe and the rest of the world, to ensure these welding competencies exist.

Welding and Cutting 12 (2013) No.2