Tests show welders don't have skills for Curtis projects

MORE than 50% of the tradespeople who have taken a practical weld test for specialist weld positions with Bechtel have failed.

While Bechtel has upskilled more than 150 experienced people into these roles, it is recruiting for people with extensive experience - three to five years in the trade with large industry, who have the capability to pass a very technical weld test.

Aggressive recruiting across Gladstone and the rest of Australia for special class welders still hasn't been enough, resulting in 30 or so specialists being brought in from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Bechtel general manager Gladstone Kevin Berg said it was the last option and expensive to do, but was encouraged that Bechtel had helped the next generation of workers by up skilling thousands of Australians during this construction phase.

"It's important to note that these are specialist positions that require a very specific skill set," he said. "The people we are employing to do this work have years of experience welding across a range of exotic materials."

Although Bechtel couldn't provide the numbers of how many people had taken the tests, Mr Berg said the tests had a huge failure rate.

"On some who were close, we provided up skilling and training so they could pass, but even in doing that we couldn't find the numbers we needed."

He said Bechtel's recruiters had travelled nationally searching for people with the skill sets and experience needed, who had worked on major oil, gas or petroleum construction projects.

"We have also recruited, trained and up-skilled local workers to entry and intermediate level," he said.

Bechtel has employed more than 350 apprentices, provided more than 12,000 people with accredited training and advanced employees into highly skilled construction roles.

Mr Berg said it was an unfortunate reality that many thousands of people would miss out on working on the project.


  • Testing booths had been set up in Gladstone, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
  • People are given a weld coupon - pieces of materials - with time to practice.
  • Then they weld the metal under similar conditions to the projects.
  • The weld coupons were non-destructive tested to make sure the welds were flawless, with good bonding of the material so it would pass requirements.
  • More than 50% of those tested failed.