Friday, October 30, 2009

Carpenters union opens trades college in Nova Scotia

The Carpenters Union of Mainland Nova Scotia has opened a private career college in Lower Sackville that will create more tradespeople for the construction industry to address a shortage of qualified workers.

"The carpenters union has trained its own members for many years and we thought we would like to take this training public in an effort to raise the standards of the industry," Peter Greer, vice-president of the Carpenter Millwright Trades College, said in an interview Tuesday.

Mr. Greer said the most productive and best qualified leaders in industry are moving toward retirement and "about 30 per cent of our workforce will be retired in 10 years and 50 per cent in 15 years."

He said there isn’t a lot of time to transfer the skills of the present generation to the younger workers moving into the industry.

The college, located at 1000 Sackville Dr., is offering an eight-week pre-employment course for people with no experience in the industry and two four-week elective courses in scaffold training and installing construction forms.

There are plans to also offer a drywall course, plus instruction in other industry-related trades.

The pre-employment course provides industry basics, such as how to use portable hand and power tools, how to do construction math, how to improve communications, how to get along with co-workers and how to receive instructions.

"These are basics, but we find these are skills a lot of people don’t have when they come into the industry," Mr. Greer said.

At the end of the eight-week program, students can take the four-week elective courses.

The college, certified by the provincial Education Department, has five certified instructors who have many years of on-the-job experience.

"We want to develop the college into the ‘come-to place’ for innovative, job-ready, skills-development training for Nova Scotia," Mr. Greer said.

"We don’t want to compete with the Nova Scotia Community College, but rather complement their training with ours."

The college also has plans to become a centre of excellence for safety, foreman training, productivity and communications training.

Mr. Greer said the 26,000-square-foot former church building is ideal for the college’s needs. A gymnasium has been converted into a wood shop and drywall lab and a scaffolding training area will be established outside.

"We like to replica industry as close as possible," he said.

The private college has the full support of the international union and is part of a North American program to have several training centres in Canada and the U.S. The union’s international training centre in Las Vegas supports the program.

The curriculum and programs are developed at the international centre and the local trade colleges refine them to meet local conditions.

"We want to deliver better craft value to the industry and raise the quality of the carpentry trade for all Nova Scotians through hands-on training," Mr. Greer said.

"As well as being a college, we intend to become a facility for conferences and discussion groups interested in improving our industry with the focus on skills improvement, construction site safety, quality control and career enhancement for all tradespeople in Nova Scotia."



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