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The UBC’s Career Connections program is laying the foundation of a bright, productive future for high school students. Created by the Carpenters International Training Fund, the program is employed in schools across North America to introduce students to the craft and trade of carpentry. Young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to choose a career wisely and prepare for advanced training in a registered apprenticeship program.
“Carpentry is a viable alternative to college, and our goal with this program is to give schools across North America the tools to present that option to their students,” said Carole O’Keefe, coordinator of the program for the UBC.
The Career Connections program is designed to help high school teachers introduce students to a career in carpentry. Students learn basic and intermediate carpentry, advanced skills in commercial and residential construction, and the essentials of construction site safety. The program also includes training in the employability that research shows employers value most, including: goal setting, positive attitude, punctuality, teamwork, and taking initiative.
Program materials have been written by UBC carpenters from around North America who have both teaching and field experience. Procedures for the projects are designed to be completed using typical school shop tools and have been built and tested in UBC training centers.
Teacher support is a major feature of the program. All books come with an annotated edition that provides teacher class notes, rubrics for each project, project evaluations, a tool safety operation checklist, a comprehensive skills matrix, and estimated timelines for teaching. Teachers and students can see projects built step-by-step using the program’s Virtual Shop software. In addition, trained and certified outreach specialists—all experienced carpenters—support teachers through mentoring while also ensuring safe shop practices. Tours of UBC Training Centers and professional speakers such as contractors or manufacturers are also made available.
Every graduate who completes the four-year program gains a jump-start into a career as a professional union carpenter. Certified graduates may receive advanced placement at UBC pre-apprenticeship and/or apprenticeship programs.
“It’s a win-win for all facets of the construction industry,” O’Keefe said. “Students are presented with a great opportunity, the UBC maintains a pipeline of professional carpenters, and the industry gains highly skilled professionals.”