Kieran McLoughlin has an impressive resume for a 24-year-old.
Since graduating from high school seven years ago, McLoughlin, a professional welder, has been busy working in remote gold mines and large industrial plants, most recently helping to refurbish one of the world’s largest nuclear power production facilities in Pickering, Ontario.
And now, his eyes are set on another challenge – becoming a pipeline welder.
“I feel it’s the next course of action to take this class, improve my skills to be a pipeline welder and see where that takes me,” says McLoughlin from the training yard of UA Local 46 in Toronto, where he and other journeymen hone their welding skills as if they were on a pipeline construction site.
Energy East welding needs
Working on projects such as Energy East – the 4,500-kilometre pipeline that will connect Western oil resources with refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick – is definitely something McLoughlin would like to do.
“I’d get to say that I’ve done this, that I’ve been a part of this huge project and contributed to it in a positive way,” he says. “It would make finding work going forward that much easier.”
Energy East will hire the cream of the welding crop to tie in sections that will ultimately form the west-to-east pipeline as it needs to ensure these welds can stand the test of time in the ground for the next 40 to 60 years.
These welders will be among the 14,000 direct and indirect full-time jobs the project is expected to generate each year during its development and construction phase.
“Anyone can be a welder and weld a trailer in a garage but to say you can do it at the highest level, to an x-ray standard, is a whole different thing,” McLoughlin says, referring to the X-ray inspection required for each weld to ensure that no air bubble or crack can compromise the integrity of the structure.
This is probably one of the main pulls of the job for McLoughlin. Besides paying well, he says working on pipelines would allow him to perfect the art of welding and demonstrate his skills.
“Pipeline projects demand best-in class work but you can really make a great career at it, become really good at it and make yourself known.”
High industry standards
Because welders are needed in nearly every industrial sector, the hunt for talent is fierce. And because it takes a very specific set of skills and practice to weld pipelines, labour organizations actively seek promising welders and train them to prepare the workforce that pipeline companies need.
“It takes time, training and a certain mentality to be a pipeline welder,” says McLoughlin. “I definitely could not have told you five years ago that I would be here today but it’s nice to be. This is where I want to be.”