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March 28, 2011

Carpentry Foundations students gain experience with using insulated concrete form technology.Carpentry Foundations students gain experience with using insulated concrete form technology.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Fortunately, Carpentry instructors at Camosun College don't buy that philosophy. Instead, they look for ways to make a good thing better.

Quality, safety and efficiency have always been the focus of Camosun's Carpentry Foundations program, which is why graduates continually get snapped up by local employers looking to hire apprentices. The new class starting in April 2011 will benefit from new curriculum that adds a focus on emerging environmental standards within the construction industry.

More and more, large construction projects are being built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. On the residential side of the industry, environmentally conscious homeowners are seeking Built Green certified builders for new houses and home renovations.

"Nowadays, a project doesn't stand a chance of getting any government funding unless the plans include LEED certification," says Cam Russell, chair of architectural trades at Camosun College. "Contractors need skilled employees who are familiar with sustainable building practices. We've incorporated those practices into the curriculum so our students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to help do the job right."

A new way of doing things

The new curriculum introduces students to a number of sustainability concepts, from site planning and excavation to the selection of insulation options and potentially hazardous adhesives. They will gain an appreciation for the role carpenters play in ensuring the buildings meet rising standards in the selection and handling of lumber and other materials, including sourcing, conserving, recycling and disposal. Students also spend time studying the BC Building Code, which now includes the recently added Part 10 that focuses on energy and water efficiency.

"Camosun has to keep up with emerging trends and standards," says Russell. "We've been training the region's workforce for 40 years and employers have learned they can depend on Camosun grads to hit the ground running."

Although the curriculum changes officially take effect this April, Camosun has already started introducing the new concepts into students’ practical experience. In 2008, two carpentry classes helped build a five-unit  multiplex residence for Habitat for Humanity, using insulated concrete form technology. This energy-efficient system is now commonly used for residential projects seeking Built Green status.

Learning to be a Carpenter

Camosun’s six-month Carpentry Foundations certificate program covers theory and practical skills needed in the carpentry trade, preparing graduates for employment as a first year apprentice. Coming out of the Foundations program, new apprentices are well-prepared with hands-on skills but also have an academic advantage because the program includes the first year apprenticeship technical training.

Carpentry apprentices will return to Camosun for six weeks each year throughout the four year apprenticeship, which qualifies them to write the interprovincial exam for Red Seal certification.

The Foundations program runs four times a year, starting in January, April, July and September. Each class accepts a maximum of 18 students. For more information, contact Enrolment Services, or attend a program info session, scheduled on the third Thursday evening each month.

Last updated: April 6, 2011 9:34 am

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