The excitement was tangible when the 13 finalists in the Young Welder of the Year competition arrived at the head office of the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW).

Etienne Nell, manager of the training services at SAIW, welcomed the entrants and confirmed that the SAIW Young Welder of the Year competition is a prestigious event and that the winner will represent South Africa in the WorldSkills competition in Liepzig, Germany during July 2013.

The competition was run in compliance with the WorldSkills competition in order to prepare the entrants for the possibility of competing in Liepzig.

Contestants were inducted and given safety regulations. They were also given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the equipment. The real competition started on the following day with the competitors welding a fillet weld with 10mm thick plate using the flux core welding process in the 2F position, a 3G plate butt weld using the manual metal arc process with low hydrogen electrodes, as well as an ASME IX 6G weld in 152mm x 12mm pipe weld.

Visual inspection and break tests were used for evaluation of the fillet weld and radiography was used to examine the butt welds. For the following two and a half days the contestants had to complete aluminum, stainless steel and carbon steel projects. The final part of the competition was the carbon steel pressure vessel, which was hydraulically leak tested at 69 bar pressure.

Prof Madeleine du Toit, president of SAIW, addressed the audience and congratulated the contestants. She confirmed that South Africa needs highly skilled technical people, especially welders, and that welders are operating in interesting times with all the power stations being built and various projects in the transport, petrochemical and fabrication industries.

“In order to provide consistent quality levels, South Africa needs more training. We have internationally acclaimed training and training facilities operating according to the highest global standards. Welders do not have to stop training when qualified; there are many other welding qualifications they can obtain. Welding can provide young people with an international career path and every contestant is therefore a winner,” she said.

Carmen Adams-Hoffman from MerSeta said that MerSeta is committed to the WorldSkills competition. She addressed the contestants and confirmed that, with their skill, they will have international career prospects. She thanked the contestants for participating and becoming ambassadors for welding. Adams-Hoffman commended Etienne Nell for his work with the competition as well as Dimitra Kreouzi for all of her hard work.

The judges of the competition included Morris Maroga from Eskom as chief judge, Paul Bruwer from Sasol, Thembinkosi Matyeka, who was the winner of the YWOY competition in 2005, Diego  Sella from Sassda, Elijah Banda from SAIW and George Walker, an expert aluminum welder.

All the competitors received a cash prize for reaching the finals. The winner of the competition was Houston Isaacs from Afrox who received R30,000 in prizes for winning all the category prizes (best welder in aluminium, carbon steel and stainless steel) and overall winner. Shandre Janse van Rensburg, from the West Coast College in Vredenburg, was runner up and winner of a R5,000 cash prize.

What is SAIW?

The Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW), founded in 1948, is a not-for-profit organisation with a purpose to further standards in welding, fabrication and related technologies. The SAIW is active throughout, but not restricted to, the Southern African region with widespread experience in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates. 

The growing corporate and individual membership includes major national corporations, as well as small and medium enterprises. 

The Institute head office is a purpose-built building located in Johannesburg, Gauteng, with branches in Cape Town and Durban.