Welders and Related Machine Operators

Unit Group 7265

Skill Type: Trades, Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations

Type of work

Welders operate welding equipment to weld ferrous and non-ferrous metals. This unit group also includes machine operators who operate previously set up production welding, brazing and soldering equipment.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • aviation welding technician
  • brazing machine operator
  • brazing machine setter
  • electric arc welder
  • journeyman/woman welder
  • laser welding operator
  • pressure vessel welder
  • production welder
  • soldering machine operator
  • spot welder
  • welder
  • welder apprentice
  • welder-fitter

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are fair.

(Update: August 2015)

Employment in the welding and related machine operators group rose sharply in the second half of the '90s and then decreased slightly. These ups and downs fairly closely reflect the trend in the industries that employ welders and soldering machine operators. Given the forecast growth in these industries, the number of welders and related machine operators is expected to show slight growth over the coming years.

Sources of employment

Openings created by attrition through retirement and promotions of machinery operators to supervisory positions are the primary sources of employment. Additional openings will result from employment increase.

Labour pool

The labour pool may vary considerably depending on the requirements for the position. That explains why this occupation has high unemployment but also a labour shortage.

In the positions that require a lower level of skill, such as unskilled positions as welders or related machine operators, the labour pool consists of experienced metallurgical workers who have received in-house training. This group includes welder/fitter helpers (see 9612, labourers in metal fabrication) and the many experienced unemployed welders and welder helpers. Incidentally, this is the labour pool with the highest unemployment.

However, there is a much smaller labour pool for more highly skilled jobs requiring fitting skills, a knowledge of various welding techniques (FCAW, GMAW, SMAW, GTAW, etc. ) and of the properties of metals, and the ability to read plans and blueprints.

Graduates of programs leading to a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DEP) in Welding-fitting and a Vocational Studies Accreditation (ASP) in High-pressure Welding are potential candidates for the more highly-skilled jobs, but not all of them have the knowledge and experience required by employers. That might explain why employment prospects for graduates of these two programs is usually only fair, according to the data from the provincial goverment Relance survey. It was even bad in 2009 and 2010 because of the 2008-2009 recession, before returning fair or good from 2011 to 2013.

Lastly, a certain number of openings are likely to be filled by immigrants who satisfy the abovementioned requirements. In fact, although it was lower than in all occupations in 2011 (7% compared with 14%, according to National Household Survey data), the proportion of immigrants in this occupation nonetheless reveals that it is open to new arrivals. Depending on their skills, immigrants may be as much part of the labour pool for less specialized positions as for those requiring a higher level of specialization.

Industries

According to National Household Survey data, approximately 56% of welders and related machine operators were working in the manufacturing sector in 2011. Employment in this occupation showed some concentration in the production of fabricated metal products (20%), machinery (12%) and transportation equipment (9%). There were also significant numbers of workers in repair and maintenance industries (18%, welding services included) and construction (9%).

Trends

Since most jobs in welding shops are created by the manufacturing sector and to a lesser extent the construction industry, growth of employment in this occupation depends mainly on the trends that affect employment in those sectors, but also on demand for welding and fitting in manufacturing and construction.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector sustained heavy job losses since the early 2000s. The US recession at the beginning of this period, the sharp rise in the value of the Canadian dollar in 2003 and increased competition from low-wage countries, such as China, and the weak global growth since the 2008-2009 recession are events that have occurred since the early 2000s, leading to a sharp decline in activity in this sector.

Consequently, the real value (after inflation) of manufacturing shipments decrease more than 15% between 2001 and 2013 while employment dropped between 20% and 30% as a result of a rise in productivity. The decline in the value of shipments could have been greater had domestic demand not been so strong. Indeed, the real value of exports declined by more than 25% during the period, while the real value of domestic shipments decreased slightly more than 5%. Thus, exports fell from 48% of shipments in 2001 to 42% in 2013.

The value of both export and domestic shipments is expected to begin to recover in the next few years. The increase should be significant, especially if the recent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar continued. Similarly, the increasingly strong recovery in the United States could also boost our exports. However, the continuing strong competition from low-wage countries will limit the extent of this increase. In the end, taking also into account the constant improvements in productivity, the number of jobs in the manufacturing sector should increase only slightly during our forecast period (2014-2018).

The situation will be quite different from one industry to another, however. Consumer goods manufacturing industries, such as electrical equipment, clothing, textiles and printing, will be hit hardest. The primary metal and paper manufacturing industries will continue to suffer from the low demand for their products. The outlook will be better in industries that rely on domestic demand, such as food and metal product manufacturing, and on high technology, such as transportation equipment and machinery.

As welders and welding and brazing machine operators are proportionally more prevalent in industries that offer the best outlook, they should be ultimately advantaged by such prospects over the coming years.

Construction

Following a period of decline that continued until 1998, the construction industry enjoyed a vigorous recovery, leading to the highest ever number of jobs in 2013. Many factors combined to account for the recovery:

  • Low interest rates
  • A substantial increase in public and private investment
  • Steady job creation (except in 2009, due to the recession)
  • Lower taxes
  • An improvement in the youth labour market that encouraged more young people to leave home and
  • A high migratory balance (international and interprovincial immigrants minus emigrants)

These factors led to a more than 80% increase in employment in the construction industry between 1998 and 2013. In the regulated construction industry, the number of hours worked more than doubled between 1998 and 2013 (a more than 110% increase), despite a 7% decline in 2013, according to data from the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ).

Over the next few years, the economic growth is expected to boost employment in most construction sectors, the residential sector being the only one that should lose ground because of the decline in housing starts. Employment in this industry is expected to increase slightly during our forecast period (2014-2018), at a slower pace than in the last 10 years. The situation will vary greatly from sector to sector.

In 2014, approximately 50% of welders subject to the Act respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Manpower Management in the Construction Industry (known as the "Construction Decree") worked in the industrial construction sector, 25 % in engineering and road and 25% in the commercial and institutional construction sector. Since half of construction welders work in the sector where the highest growth is expected, the industrial sector, they should benefit from trends affecting employment in the different sectors of construction.

Demand for welding

The manufacturing and construction sectors have undergone a lot of technological change in recent years. In the industries that employ the most welders, such as the production of fabricated metal parts, numerically controlled machine tools have had a tremendous impact on the machinist trade. Even though the duties of welders have also changed, particularly in terms of welding techniques and materials, most of these duties still involve a significant amount of human input. This explains why the number of jobs for welders has been increasing, and should remain comparable to that for other occupations in the industries that employ them.

It should be recalled that demand is higher for welders with fitting skills, a knowledge of various welding techniques (FCAW, GMAW, SMAW, GTAW, etc. ) and of the properties of metals, and the ability to read plans and blueprints.

In view of these trends, the number of welders and related machine operators is expected to increase slightly after the current recession.

Employment characteristics

According to Census and National Household Survey data, women had barely 5% of the positions in this occupation in 2011, although even 5% is a big change from 1991 (when women accounted for less than 2% of all those employed in this occupation). The work is usually done in a noisy, dusty environment that is hot sometimes and cold other times. The work often has to be done in an uncomfortable position. There is some seasonal variation, especially in jobs in the construction sector.

Education and Training

Employers require a few years of secondary school, but a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DEP) in Welding-fitting is increasingly required, and is always an asset.

A Vocational Studies Accreditation (ASP) in High-pressure Welding is also an asset, and opens the door to more highly skilled jobs.

Other courses in welding, such as the semi-skilled welder-helper training program offered by the school boards, are often required.

The vocational Certificate of Qualification fromEmploi-Québec is sometimes required, and is always an asset.

A trade proficiency certificate issued by theCommission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) is required for employment in the regulated construction industry.

Skilled welders can obtain Red Seal certification that lets them work anywhere in Canada.

Useful References

Important Considerations

A slight increase in the number of welders and related machine operators is expected over the next few years.

There is a labour surplus for unskilled positions as welders or related machine operators, but employers say they have a great deal of trouble recruiting people for more highly skilled jobs requiring fitting skills, a knowledge of a variety of welding techniques (FCAW, GMAW, SMAW, GTAW, etc. ) and of the properties of metals, and the ability to read plans and blueprints.

The labour market situation for Vocational Studies Diploma (DEP) graduates in Welding and Fitting and the Vocational Studies Accreditation (ASP) in High-Pressure Welding is usually only fair. It was even bad in 2009 and 2010 because of the 2008-2009 recession, before returning fair or good from 2011 to 2013.

Statistics 7265 - Welders and Related Machine Operators

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 7265 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 22,250 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 850 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 0.6% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 150 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 250 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 400 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 7265 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 95.2% 51.9%
Females 4.8% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 12.3% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 47.0% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 39.3% 41.1%
65 years and over 1.5% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 96.3% 81.2%
Part-time 3.7% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 60.0% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $42,100 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 8.2% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 65.8% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 26.1% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 14.9% 12.1%
High-school 11.2% 20.3%
Post-secondary 73.1% 44.2%
Bachelors 0.8% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 5.6% 10.7%
Immigration 6.9% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 7265 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 3.7% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 3.6% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 7.8% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 5.6% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 10.3% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 3.4% 1.6%
Estrie 5.8% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.9% 0.9%
Lanaudière 6.5% 6.1%
Laurentides 6.0% 7.3%
Laval 2.4% 5.2%
Mauricie 3.8% 3.0%
Montérégie 20.9% 19.2%
Montréal 9.4% 22.9%
Outaouais 1.7% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 8.4% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 7265
Manufacturing 55.7%
- Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 19.5%
- Machinery Manufacturing 12.0%
- Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 8.7%
Repair and Maintenance (Welding Services included) 18.0%
Construction 9.4%
- Specialty Trade Contractors 6.7%