Since becoming a member of the International Authorization Board (IAB) of the International Institute of Welding (IIW) in May 2009, the KWJS not only issues internationally-recognized qualifications, but also evaluates and authorizes Approved Training Bodies (ATBs) in Korea. A total of 46 IIW Member Countries are currently also IIW-IAB members. The IAB oversees and manages the implementation and development of the IIW’s International Education, Training, Qualification and Certification systems for welding personnel within each of its Member Countries and also supervises the issuance of IIW diplomas and certificates.
Each year, the KWJS issues various types of diplomas and certificates via its welding training/authorization programs, in compliance with the IIW’s regulations, including those for Korean Welding Engineer (KWE), Welding Specialist (KWS Level 2), Welding Inspector (KWIP), Welding Instructor (KWIE) and Welder (KW). In fact, the KWE diploma may be considered as the Korean version of the SFI.
From 1986 to 1991, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Metals (KIMM) conducted a Schweiss Fach Ingenieur (SFI) training/qualification program in Korea, in association with the German research institute, SLV-Duisburg. The program formed part of a government-level, technical cooperation project and operated under the purview of the German Welding Society, DVS. At that time, since demand was high for welding professionals in Korea, certification programs were considered to be the best option for the nurturing of skilled workers with an appropriate level of knowledge and competence in welding technology and its applications.
In 1992, however, a new European Welding Engineer (EWE) program was introduced after 17 European nations decided to integrate their respective qualification systems. As a consequence, the SFI program ceased being available and was replaced by the EWE program. Thus, the KWJS decided to administer its own program, according to its newly-established KWJS Education & Qualification Regulations, thereby designating KIMM as its training center (1992-1998). Trainees who successfully completed the course and passed the examination were eligible for KWE certification. In December 1998, the KIMM welding training/education program was transferred to Hanbat National University.
As participants in the training programs conducted from 1986 to 1991, some 145 individuals were able to complete the courses and to obtain SFI status. From 1998 to 2002, the KWJS issued KWE, KWS and KWIP diplomas, all of which are officially recognized in Europe according to the mutual certification agreement. The Steel-frame Construction Association of Japan also acknowledged that the KWE qualification corresponded to the JWE (Japanese Welding Engineer) equivalent. These inter-country certification agreements helped many Korean companies in the relevant industries to develop their overseas markets. The current IWE qualification has also made a great contribution in this regard and, to a wider degree, to the growth of the Korean national economy.
Thanks to the efforts of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS), most of the applicable ISO standards were combined with KS regulations: general quality assurance requirements for products and services are specified in ISO 9000, while the requirements for welding quality are specified in KS B ISO 3834 (identical to EN 729). Similar standards were established in Europe in 1994, with many countries in the region and further afield opting for ISO standards. Since the KWE regulation is included in ISO 14731 (Welding Coordination Tasks and Responsibilities), the KWE training program may thus be considered to be part of the ISO-KS programs.
As an IIW member, the KWJS has operated an IIW-ANB as part of its organization since 2011. In order to operate an IIW-ANB in Korea, the necessary quality manual was submitted in 2010 and approval was granted after satisfying the on-site inspection conducted by the IIW-IAB. In so doing, authorization was granted for the KWE diploma to be converted to IWE via the “transition arrangement”. As a direct consequence of this, for the past few years, the KWJS has been awarding IWE diplomas to KWE-certified professionals.