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Bridging the Welding Skills Gap

Last year, the UK’s engineering sector contributed well over a quarter of GDP. However, this success is unlikely to continue if the current shortage of skills is not met. In fact, it’s estimated that engineering is short of 69,000 skilled employees a year. With Brexit looming and young people in short supply, the problem is very likely to get worse.

This skills shortage is particularly acute in industrial welding. It’s a global problem – the American Welding Society has claimed it faces a shortage of 400,000 welding operators by 2024. The average age of welders in the UK and Australia has now eclipsed 55. For those employed as industrial welders this is all good news – high demand means high salaries. For industrial employers, the future’s not quite so bright.

Let a Laser do the Work

Laser welding  

Rather than increase the number of welding apprenticeships which are often more vocational than practical or import more labour, another answer could be to let technology simplify the welding process. This would reduce the level of skill required and the associated training necessary to meet the current requirements.

Our product partners Alpha Laser are the laser welding specialists. Their innovations include the first laser welding device for tool and mould repairs and the very first mobile laser device – an area in which they are now market leaders. Alpha Laser welding systems help improve production quality and reliability while making the welding process simpler, faster and more accurate.

Intuitive Operation

Alpha Laser welding system operators need less skill than their highly skilled manual welding counterparts because the systems are more intuitive. Most Alpha Laser welding systems are programmable for automatic welding. For one-off repairs or working on a single prototype, Alpha Laser systems incorporate a easy to use intuitive joystick that provides critical control over the x and y axis, matching the operator’s hand movements without the accuracy and precision issues caused by interpolation.

User-Coordinated Control

Alpha Laser also adds specific features to its systems to help make the operator’s life easier. For instance, the mobile ALFlak offers the patented semi-automatic User-Coordinated Control which allows three-dimensional operational sequences, regardless of how the seams are to be situated.

For further information and details of how TLM and Alpha Laser can close your welding skills gap, please contact us at