Experience and expertise at the base of the College of Carpenters

di Joe Volpe del March 18, 2020

VAUGHAN - “Every profession needs viable and visible standards to inspire public confidence”, says Mike Yorke, “Carpentry is no different – ours is a profession, a career. That’s one of the reasons we established the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades”.

“We” is the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, Local 27. Mike Yorke is its President. Gone are the days when labour was plentiful, inexpensive and people looked for work, happy to put in time and “maybe learn on the job”. Yorke is an experienced carpenter. The marketplace demands skills and pride of product that comes with the application of methodical training, he says.

“This is especially true in a ‘hot construction market’ like Toronto, adds Yorke, “a well trained (Certified and Qualified) carpenter graduate from our College is immediately a cost-effective element in the construction phase. That graduate, man or woman, represents value-added contribution to the final product.

Cristina Selva is the Executive Director of the College and one of the speakers at the Open House and Networking on site. “Carpentry is well-paying satisfying career for men or women; it’s no longer just a job”, Ms. Selva, said to the audience of entrepreneurs, contractors, engineers, politicos, educators and aspiring practitioners of carpentry.

“Ours is a skill and a trade that has always been in demand. It requires on-going learning and adaptation. Unfortunately, those ingredients are not easily replaceable, and in the context of an aging demographic coupled with a booming economy we have an obligation to constantly re-educated and upgrade the skills of our members – new and old”, she said. Perhaps for effect of simply to underscore the opportunities for aspiring “students” in the audience, she noted that over the next ten years 5,000 [master] carpenters will be retiring; that is a rate of 500 per year.

Dan Montesano, himself an example - one of many - of carpenter turned entrepreneur/employer commented that he has had to ask five former retired employees to come back to work. Without qualified tradesmen, his company can’t compete for projects, nor complete them on time and on budget. “It’s no longer about the facile perception that the trade is just about hammers and nails, saws and wood,” remarked Tony Currie, Program Director at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades.

Indeed, looking around the 120,000 square feet classroom, there are learning stations for skills development of every tool one needs to accomplish a carpenter’s task: from design reading, drafting, products analysis, practice with instruments to safety and health concerns in every environment, 47 courses in total.

Currie is responsible for program development, that is for the methodology behind the training together with the executive Director, he brings the skills of the practitioners into a learning and “practising” environment under the guidance of “masters and mentors” in all aspects of the industry.

That includes innovative programmes like the ever-increasingly significant Mass Timber technology and application. It represents a sustainable, ecologically friendly alternative for engineering firms in the low to mid-rise construction sector.

The partnership with engineering firms like Moses Structural Engineers and its president, David Moses, are key to that transformation in the construction. As he says, we should not expect a general movement away from steel, concrete and correlated products. By his presence and intervention at the Open House Mr. Moses illustrated a keen collaboration between the engineering profession and those tasked with producing the final product that is both attractive from a visual perspective and secure from structural point of view.

Tony Iannuzzi, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, was bullish on the College: “Carpenters (and Allied trades) have been at the leading edge of training and certification. Our Program, with its 28 different courses and competencies addressing the skills our membership o.ers contractors, engineering firms and the public is as complete as the highest standards expected of professional agencies.” “Lifelong Learning and Training” is an ethic not often re-enforced. It is an unstated fact that Ontario’s school system, despite its association with Carpenters, has receded from its promotion of Trades as part of its Culture of Learning.

Mike Yorke’s goal, as that of the College, is the regeneration of enviable training/trades culture to coexist alongside the traditional “book-learning”. They are laying down some enduring foundations.

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