Steel Plus Network Connections Issue 2 | Page 11

The Millennial Welder


Drake Butt elding is a unique profession that spans back millennia , and it is as necessary today as it was for the ancient Greeks .
Welding is essential to industrial giants in the agriculture , automotive , and construction industries , to name a few . As the children of the Boomers prepare for retirement , industries look to Millennials to fill the gaps .
To put it succinctly , the demand for young and hardy welders is high .
We had the opportunity to have a chat with a budding welder , Drake Butt . Drake is fresh out of welding school and is already working with a respected steel fabrication company in the Canadian Maritimes . And it ’ s a learning experience in the best sense for the young New Brunswicker .
Drake ’ s inspiration to begin welding came from an unexpected source : his love of music . After trying out a course in audio engineering during high school , Drake found he keenly enjoyed the technical and tactile tasks like soldering cables onto mics and intricate equipment repair . He ’ s always been a “ science nerd ,” and he enjoys the process of creating .
Growing up , Drake was surrounded by welding and the love of the profession . He began an unofficial apprenticeship with a longstanding welder and decided he wanted to move his career in that direction .
Drake attended New Brunswick Community College ( NBCC ) for welding where the learning atmosphere remained a tad touchand-go due to the COVID-19 pandemic .
To achieve a certification , Drake had to take a test in one of the welding positions in one of the many welding materials . Drake went above and beyond and achieved two different certifications : one for stick welding for both the flat and horizontal positions , and one for flux metal in the flat position .
The course provided Drake with a solid foundation , but the true real-life experience was yet to come .
Drake wakes up before dawn to prepare for his 6:30 a . m . shift at his workplace . He prepares his lunch and hits the road before six o ’ clock as his commute from sleepy Riverview to bustling Moncton is roughly a half hour .
Once there , his tasks for the day depend on the overarching task of the month . His foreman is currently concerned with painting primer steel . This has to be handled with some delicacy as the steel often sits in the cold and is difficult to work with . Drake and his teammates stockpile all the steel that ’ s been sitting in the cold and , once thawed and painted , help organize the painted steel onto the forklift .
Other work is chop and change . For example , Drake often finds himself splicing beams together , operating equipment , working on railings , and so much more . Each day varies and gives him the opportunity to learn many aspects of the trade itself .
When asked if he thought his course adequately prepared him for the work he ’ s doing now , Drake has mixed feelings . Of course , learning the basics was essential to his success as a welder , yet the pandemic threw a wrench into his hands-on learning .
It was only when Drake was fully in the workforce that the puzzle pieces came together . His foreman knew that he was new to the craft and took care to train him on parts of the trade that Drake didn ’ t see much of during schooling .
Drake has high hopes for his welding career . He speaks admiringly of underwater welding , citing his love of the water and his trade . He cautions that this isn ’ t the easiest path , noting the danger of underwater welding and the rigours of being certified for both scuba diving and underwater welding .
It ’ s clear that Drake is passionate about his current position and how he can leverage his experience to exciting opportunities as his career blossoms . For Drake , a point that ’ s often brought up during our chat is his love of learning and creating . He maintains that for this career path , the sky is indeed the limit . +