Welding the future

Inside the EKJP workshop. Photo by Mick McInerney

Inside the EKJP workshop. Photo by Mick McInerney

Metal equipment is an important part of infrastructure on cattle stations, and knowing how to weld it is a valuable skill. Through an East Kimberley Job Pathway (EKJP) Work for the Dole (WFD) activity eight local men are learning to weld.

Working with a supervisor and trainer in a workshop they are learning the basics of welding to complete modules of the Certificate II in Agriculture. The activity will train the participants in 14 different welds, including vertical and horizontal.

The EKJP course also includes one-on-one help with literacy and numeracy through the Literacy for Life program. Numeracy skills particularly important for welding include basic measuring, quantity surveying to reduce wastage, and understanding angles. The program is delivered by project partner Wunan Foundation.

The course has only been running for three weeks and the men are almost ready to start fabricating products for use on cattle stations. While the activity started as a WFD obligation, EKJP is pleased to report that the men are asking for more work than their 25 hour requirement.

“In our sphere of operations people vote with their feet, if they don’t like what they’re doing then they float,” said John Vos, CEO of EKJP.

“This is a model where people engage in things because they like it, they can see the benefit in it.”

In the workshops the men are creating products for sale on the cattle stations including portable cattle runs, gates, loading ramps and cattle crush.

Mr Vos said the ultimate goal is for the men to develop a seasonal approach to work.

“The wet season has a huge impact, for four to five months some properties are inaccessible, and that’s when they can produce cattle panels and gates in the workshop.

“In the dry season they’d work on a labour-hire model and go onto the stations and build the cattle yards and fences etc.”

The men who don’t stay on with EKJP have plenty of other options, including apprenticeships and traineeships in Broome and Darwin.

The EKJP activities are funded by the Remote Jobs and Communities Program and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Dedicated to the memory of a friend, colleague and EKJP Supervisor
-The EKJP Team