Demand for welders in Brunei growing

Until recently, most welders in Brunei were from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Picture: EPA

Monday, July 5, 2010

Demand for welders is growing, according to one of Brunei Shell Petroleum's local contractors.

Amid the demand, Joffren Omar Company Sdn Bhd is taking a step forward in localisation by promoting a certification scheme for welders and welding inspectors.

Gary Young, learning and development manager at Joffren Omar, said that within the oil and gas industry, although local demand is growing, welding has a very low profile in Brunei.

"This is surprising because in the industry that has a lot of welding work and construction, welding and inspection is a very key area," he said.

He added that until recently, most welders in Brunei were from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, prompting the company to introduce its Certification Scheme for Welding and Inspection Personnel (CSWIP) in order to attract more local talent.

He said Joffren Omar's sister company, Syarikat Kejuruteraan Sistematik (SKS), currently has between 100 and 120 welders.

"It depends on the workload of the fabrication. It may go up to 150 welders so there is a lot of demand for welders and if you see how many Bruneian welders there are, you'll see that there aren't a lot," he said.

Young said that in terms of salary, a welding inspector can command a salary "in the thousands", which can either be $4,000 to $6,000 depending on his expertise.

He said that Joffren Omar currently has an in-house training scheme which has three programmes that partner with the Welding Institute from the United Kingdom, for the certification scheme.

Within the scheme, there are courses for welders who wish to be a visual welding inspector in either level one, two or three and it invites Bruneians and permanent residents, who have a minimum of six months experience in engineering and has been independently verified, to enter for the level one course.

For level two and three, the requirements increase, for the length of experience that the welder has had and so on.

"When they finish the training with us, they are bonded with SKS for four years, but we pay for everything and guarantee them employment," said Young.

He explained that the scheme has three intakes every year and it is still fairly new, with the scheme starting last year. "To date we have already had five intakes, where 44 people in three groups have finished. The rest are still going through the course," said Young.

He added that since Joffren Omar has started the scheme, it had taken in 60 applicants for each intake for 12 positions.

"So we have a one to five chance of finding people that we want, and there is no shortage of interested applicants. This is strictly an initiative towards localisation," he said.

Young also said that the course has proven to be very tough for the applicants, where they have to go through visual testing, radiography and destructive testing, and that the tests are very stringent, but not everyone will pass, but that Joffren Omar had seen quite "a good pass rate".

The Brunei Times