A group of carpentry students gather in a wood working shop

Trades students experience culture and professional development in Germany

Ten Camosun College Fine Furniture and Carpentry students traded in their work trucks for plane tickets to participate in a recent exchange to Germany.

Four women stand together in a wood working shop

Sandra Carr

Camosun Fine Furniture and Carpentry students experience a German wood working shop. Sara Gallinger is on the far right.

The collaborative effort is part of the German Apprenticeship Training Exchange (GATE), a pioneering initiative fostering cross-cultural understanding and professional development within the trades and technology sectors.

The reciprocal exchange of apprenticeship training signals a new and growing relationship between Camosun College and Städtische Berufsschule in Regensburg, Germany. In May 2023, four German students and an instructor attended a two-week customized program at Camosun to experience Canadian industry and education practices.

“The exchange trip was an eye-opening experience,” says Camosun student, Sara Gallinger, who graduated from the Fine Furniture program and is a current Carpentry student.

“The opportunity to visit German factory and construction sites showed different approaches than the ones I’ve learned in Canada. I’ve deepened my understanding of craftsmanship, culture and community, and returned home with a fresh perspective of the world.”

Sara Gallinger, Carpentry student

Camosun carpentry instructor Al Van Akker also notes the different attitudes toward the woodworking and construction trades between the two countries. “In Canada, we emphasize speed and productivity,” he says. “In Germany, there’s a greater emphasis on quality and longevity. Students toured buildings that are over 800 years old and have survived since medieval times. It’s something that will stay with them as they embark on their trades careers.”

When many people think about educational exchange programs, they tend to think of business, humanities or language programs, not trades or technology. Fine furniture instructor Sandra Carr reminds us that Red Seal, the highest trades credential, is internationally recognized. Global partnerships for the trades make sense.

“I hope this fosters more international labour-based exchanges,” Sandra says. “This kind of opportunity broadens students’ scope of what they’re capable of and what they can do when they finish their education.”

With a successful inaugural trades exchange between Germany and Canada in the books, it’s likely that there will be more opportunities for students and instructors in the future. This achievement was made possible with support from the Joachim Herz Stiftung Foundation’s GATE program and from Global Skills Opportunity, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Carpentry building

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