If there was a record for the world’s youngest welder, Waylon Lauck would be a strong contender for titleholder. At only 17 years of age, Waylon had welded for over five years before gaining employment as a welder.
“I kind of grew up on a drilling rig,” Waylon reports, recalling his earliest interest in the trades. “My dad was a tool push and so my first encounter with welders was probably around the time I was eight years old. I was always kind of fascinated by the thought of welding and being able to see how people could make creations out of nothing.”
At 13, Waylon enjoyed his first hands-on experience when he had the opportunity to attend a Welding Camp hosted by Northern Lakes College, in partnership with the CWB Group (Canadian Welding Bureau). It was there he found the trade came naturally to him, and he left behind a group of impressed instructors.
“After the camp ended, I learned I’d been selected by the Canadian Welders Association and the Canadian Welding Bureau to receive a welder, welding cart, wire, stick electrodes, and a welding helmet and jacket to start me off.”
With industry encouragement behind him, he took as many shop classes as he could in junior high school and dedicated himself to welding small projects to increase his skillset.
Once Waylon reached high school, he learned he could enter the Dual Credit program through Northern Lakes College. Through the program, he earned high school credits and found an employer. Waylon was able to earn his high school diploma a semester early and land right into a full-time welding job serving the Athabasca and Martin Hills area. Already ahead of most of his peers, he recently completed his second-year apprenticeship, and plans to soon begin his third year at the Northern Lakes College, Slave Lake Trades and Technology Centre, where he will live in student housing for the duration of his labs.
“Working with the College has been really straightforward. You fill out the paperwork and they have all the rest planned out for you. And the Dual Credit program was outstanding. The teachers at my high school and the instructors at the College were really helpful. They wanted to support me in every way possible.”
Within the next few years, Waylon plans to have earned his Journeyman Welder’s certificate, and hopes to be operating his own welding business, either in his home province of Alberta, or perhaps further south, in Texas. He also hopes to mentor others who are interested in entering the trade.
“I’d say to other high school kids considering entering the trades to just go ahead and build those skills. You can always pursue other careers as well, but its good to have a trade in case your plans don’t pan out. The trades will always be around. You’ll always have a skill to fall back on, whatever happens.”
Northern Lakes College offers many programs through Supported Distance Learning. Get more information at www.northernlakescollege.ca/programs-courses