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September 7, 2018 | Training

Back to School for Carpenters

Carpenter training

The New England Carpenters Training Center, this week, hosted the “September Slam,” welcoming more than 130 first-year apprentices to their first session at the Millbury facility. It is the first of 16 weeks they’ll spend in classrooms and workshops with instructors during their four-year apprenticeship.

Members were organized into 12 groups and rotated through four classes: Ergonomics, Scaffold User, Fall Protection and Aerial Lift. Each class was broken into 3 stations, which were run by different instructors and focused on different aspects of the trade or work skills that will help them successfully navigate the industry and their careers.

While first-year apprentices have already been working in the field, their time at the training center is an opportunity to focus more directly on honing their skills. They’ll return to the job with more knowledge, confidence and skills that enable them to produce quality work more efficiently.

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Flynn says giving apprentices separate training periods is a good mix for developing carpenters. “The industry is extremely demanding. Margins for contractors are very tight. First-year apprentices may feel like they’re being thrown into the deep end of the pool and asked to swim. These early training weeks are important for them to gain skills and the confidence that they can keep up with the expectations set on the job.”

Tom Fischer, Executive Director of the New England Carpenters Training Center, says it’s important to strike a balance between teaching basic skills and keeping apprentices prepared for what they see day-to-day on the job.

“They’ve got to ramp up pretty quickly,” he said, “so we’re challenging them and showing them quite a bit in their first week. At the same time, they’re with instructors and other first-years and we’re working a curriculum developed by the UBC that we know is the best in the industry for apprentices at this stage.”

Next week, the group will return to work on jobsites throughout the region. They’ll be back in Millbury in a few months with more experience, more confidence and ready to take the next step in building their careers. In four years, they’ll graduate to full journey-level status–complete with the full rate–and know they’ve got the ability to work on virtually any jobsite in the country. They’ll continue to train throughout their careers, both to keep their basic skills sharp and to keep up with new products, tools and techniques. But it will be the foundations they’re starting to create this week, in their initial training, that will have set them up for success.