By: John Stoesser

Sawdust swirls around the new carpentry shop as building construction technician students slice through lumber with circular saws for their full scale wall frames.

The hard hat and steel toe clad students raise the first wall together in a display of camaraderie and teamwork. They joke about being extra careful around a reporter and easily welcome a camera laden interloper into their midst.

For this project the students build the foundation, floor, walls and roof of a structure. This is what students expect in the building construction technician program, one of many options open to those interested in entering the
progressively more popular trades sector.

“This year our post-secondary and apprenticeship programs are not just full but waitlisted,” said Chris Hahn, academic chair for construction trades and building systems.

Right now, there are seven people on the waitlist for the BCT program. In past years this was not the case says Hahn.
Over the past decade, enrollment in trades programs and apprenticeship training has increased across Canada. Data from Statistics Canada show the number of registered carpenter apprenticeships in 2000 was 21,489. This number more than doubled, jumping to 51,516 registrations in 2010.

Provincial promotion of high school trades co-ops, entry-level college trades programs and apprenticeship incentives and subsidies account for some of the increased registrations.

But this increase is also indicative of the difficulty university graduates have finding jobs.

“A lot of university grads are ending up in our classes,” said carpentry professor Dan Brigham. “They can’t find work in their fields and then look to the trades.”

Many students starting apprenticeships after completing post-secondary education find trade jobs that pay well and have opportunities for advancement into management. The building construction technician program is a gateway to these apprenticeships and jobs says Brigham.

Phil Assad is looking forward to these opportunities. After acquiring a marketing diploma, Assad enrolled in the building construction technician program. He says he enjoys the activity of the building construction program more than marketing but will combine knowledge of both when looking for a career.

Building construction technician students work in a modern facility in the new ACCE building.

“The workshop imitates a workplace environment and simulates what’s happening in the industry,” said Brigham.
With other program workshops in the same hall the students get to see many different pieces of equipment in action, explore their interests and build their way to success.