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THE BUSINESS OF WELDING

THE ABCS OF ACORN BY IAN CAMPBELL

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n the past I’ve alluded to work that was being undertaken at the CWB Group to address some of the issues around welder training and recruiting. As some of you may have noticed, this work—in the form of the CWB Institute’s Acorn—has now been officially released. So you might be asking: what is Acorn and what does it do for industry?

A IS FOR ACTION Acorn is training content and support systems that provide a solution for schools and industry that are looking to train, test, reward and recruit welding professionals at a consistent and uniform national level. Acorn is about setting an industry-driven benchmark with regards to training, and then backing it up with the tools and content educators need to deliver to that (or hopefully higher) level. It turns out that this dovetails nicely with proposed updates to the Red Seal Welder—a program we strongly support. Everyone is a partner with respect to trade education, so Acorn is fully vendor neutral, constant in delivery and format, and fully modular. It can be easily adopted into existing educational programs, or used to create new ones to service growing demand. At a basic level Acorn is comprised of two major functions: providing training resources to educators, and providing uniform skills assessments to industry. To ensure consistency and uniform quality, these are managed at the national level by CWB. So, you might ask why CWB is doing all this. Well, CWB is willing www.canadianmetalworking.com

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to make the investment and it has the resources to make it happen quickly and to a very high standard. It’s also worth pointing out that CWB is the only nationally-mandated welding body, both from a membership and regulatory perspective. One could argue they should have been doing this work years ago. Turns out they did, but it was back in the 30’s, then again in the 60’s… And we all know how much has changed since then. The reality is it’s easy to talk, make lists, have meetings, and make proposals—the hard (and expensive) part is the actual development and implementation. Ask an educator and you will find out that the funding for initiatives the size of Acorn is very hard to find, which means real largescale change can take forever.

B IS FOR BIG So how big is Acorn? In short: very big. It covers six career streams (welder, metal fabricator, welding supervisor, welding inspector, NDE technician and welding engineer) covered off through 90-plus individual courses, which can be delivered at three different skill levels, all of which can be presented to students through today’s common education channels (online, hybrid, in-shop and classroom). This is supported by hundreds of standardized tests, practical exercises and national assessments. Further, Acorn provides a national skill matching and recruiting portal with industry-endorsed credentials. This means that CWB has taken the guesswork out of training and hiring. If a candidate has been through an Acorn program, he or she will have been measured to national standards and awarded credentials based on actual demonstrated skills. Need a specific skill? You can now search for your ideal candidate through the portal (AcornConnect).

Need a specific industry competency assessment developed and delivered? Acorn can support that too, as well as matching credentials, and have it delivered nation-wide. Simply put, as a hiring manager your training needs, your credentials, your future employees can all be accommodated with Acorn. But to be fair, this is not just about employers. Acorn educators and students will also obviously benefit. A lot of work has gone into making sure all content is written for the needs of current learners in a modern learning environment. This means having learning content on-line and in-class as well as in-shop, supported by in-hand learning on their mobile devices. It also means making content engaging and “sticky” through extensive use of video, augmented reality and illustrations—with the focus on supporting “visual learning.” As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words, as are hands-on learning exercises, of which there are thousands within Acorn.

C IS FOR COST One last thing worth noting about Acorn, it’s very low cost. Actually, it’s free to all publicly-funded Canadian high schools, and the post-secondary licensing costs are heavily subsidized by the CWB Group. Why is CWB doing this? Action is needed now, or we will be in big trouble in a few years. Want to find out more about Acorn? Visit the website at www.cwbgroup. org/acorn. As mentioned earlier, with Acorn everyone is a partner, and regardless of your place in the industry there’s something for you to benefit from and contribute to. Ian Campbell is director of marketing and new product development with CWB. AUGUST 2015 | 25

15-07-17 1:40 PM

Profile for Annex Business Media

06cmw august2015 de  

Canadian Metalworking is one of Canada’s largest industrial magazines and also one of its oldest, publishing continuously since 1905. Canadi...

06cmw august2015 de  

Canadian Metalworking is one of Canada’s largest industrial magazines and also one of its oldest, publishing continuously since 1905. Canadi...