Welding mentoring graphic

Project WEST

Weld Experience Support Training

A portfolio based mentoring model with BIG potential.

Project WEST. Are you a student or a first level welder wanting hours and experience to get into an apprenticeship?

How can you get those hours, build a killer portfolio of work AND do good in your community?

OR – Are you a Journeyman (professional) Welder/ Fabricator looking for unique advertising and content for your business?

Maybe you are a Non-profit leader brainstorming unique fundraisers feeling like you’ve exhausted every idea?

MIG welding graphic

Here’s how you can fill all those needs,

Project WEST – Weld Experience Support Training

As a Red Seal Welder I feel a responsibility to pay foreword the chance someone took on me when I was first applying for jobs and I asked myself,

“How do I pay that forward in a way that benefits more than just 1 person, is light on commitment (for everyone), and has a BIG impact?”


Relationships and people. And what we choose to do with our time.

How do I use my skills to help and do good, without exploitation or favours, where everyone involved gets what they want or need?

Project WEST - Weld Experience Support Training give back graphic

When I first started thinking about this question it felt like I was inventing the perpetual motion machine – a nice idea but impossible.

Then the word ‘portfolio’ kept coming up. No, not your investment portfolio, like an artists body of work they document and use to visually show their talent and style when applying for projects.



relating to, denoting or engaged in an employment pattern that involves a succession of short-term contracts, and part-time work rather than the more traditional model of a long-term single job.

That was the AHA! moment.

If I shifted the context of that ‘employment’ word mean less ‘occupation’ and more about time usage, I was onto something.

Then I went back to that ‘connection’ theme and started talking to the people I wanted to include.

I had a student who was eager. A Non-profit who was willing…

I knew that with a little thought I could come up with a way to link these people.

My commitment to the portfolio model and my core belief that putting good out into the world will come back to me, would have to carry me through.

Thank you for reading! YOU are helping to make this happen right now! Thank you.

Here’s how it works:

Anyone can initiate a Project WEST build – a Non-profit organization, a Journey person, a student – and the goal is to take care of YOUR community.

Here’s the catch —> You have to give the result away.

Choose your non profit. Explain the Project WEST model. Research and collaborate on a project with a Journeyperson. Build. Log hours. Document the build. Give. Show great character. Get the job. Get the positive content rolling.

The student:

I hear so often, “I have my first level welding but nobody was willing to take a chance on me, so I had to give it up”

Pipe TIG welding graphic

Project WEST is a way to make that crucial first step more of a step and less of a jump.

It’s an old problem – Employers want experience. But in order to get the experience you need the job.

By building on that existing drive and willingness with a mentor, these new welders get the chance to show the character their resume claims in a real way:

They show their community integrity, drive, compassion and skill.

The responsibility to follow through on the project is really driven by the students willingness to just show up and learn. That willingness proves to the mentor their time instructing will be positive and the mentee will be more likely to mentor someone themselves later on.

After each project the decision to continue, or not, is revisited. These natural breaks allow time to asses relationships and everyone’s desire to continue – keeping the commitment level light.

Project WEST - Weld Experience Support Training mentor mind map

The Mentor:

I also hear, “I just can’t teach someone who doesn’t care or even want to be here.”

The mentor gains teaching skills – you don’t know something until you can teach it, right?- They gain insight, renewed passion and excitement because they already know the students interest and commitment level.

They also get content to share as part of personal or company values – something that most only have written on a wall somewhere:

A cause beyond personal gain. Action that proves the mindset/value claim.

Empathizing and working with organizations is, effectively, business skills.

Listening to your customer and learning what you can contribute to best suit their needs ultimately means a better return … better reputation and more work in the future.

The traditional apprentice/master model puts so much intense commitment and responsibility on the relationship that I understand why many Red Seal tradespeople may never share their skills and decide to ‘take on’ an apprentice and why apprenticeships are highly sought after, competitive, limited positions.

I want to show that everyone involved can ‘win’ with this portfolio based model.

There’s no sign up. There’s no fee. Just inspiration and an example.

Welding mentoring graphic

That old model has high potential for both people to be let down. Again, after each project build the opportunity to reassess relationships becomes natural and if it was great – build another project and/or find another Non-profit. If it wasn’t a good fit, both can amicably part.

Project WEST introduces an important third party to the equation:

The Non-profit organization.

Eliminates the restrictive intensity by shifting the focus away from each persons natural motivation, ‘What’s in it for me’ for a larger value exchange.

Working with the organization to learn what will truly be of use: a functional piece they can use every day OR a valuable item to use as a fundraising opportunity.

They say telling a friend a goal can keep you accountable to that goal. In this model the Non-profit becomes that accountability buddy. It’s easy to put off a project when it’s just you or quit when there’s a disagreement.

As the build gets going, everyone involved uses their own unique voice to spread interest – word of mouth, local print advertising, social media or any other means to generate as much attention as possible for the fundraiser.

It’s a mindset of having a larger purpose of serving your community and ultimately being the good you wish to see.
Welding mentoring graphic. Project WEST happening. Ryan SMAW welding the first project

So how do you start a Project WEST build?

Right. Here.

Use this post to explain the Project WEST model to the Journeyman Welder or Fabricator you want to work with. Come back here when approaching a Non-profit. Suggest a build and open this page for that Welder mum you know.

There’s no weekly emails coming to jam up your inbox. There is no subscription. No registration. Just a genuine way to gain Welding/Fabricating hours, build killer content showing core values, or create exciting fundraisers and involve… basically anyone willing to give in order to get.

Win. Win. Another Win. I truly believe in this model and want to see it replicated.

Can I PLEASE see your work though?

Have a great build.

Session 1 – Project WEST Build

One Reply to “Project WEST”

  1. I definitely think there’s some real potential here, especially for anyone just starting out, but even for other pros there’s always something more you can learn from someone else. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to further their list of experience and knowledge, i would know, I’m doing it 😄

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