Carpentry employment growing

Okanagan College: Program keeps pace with needs of employers

Hands-on training: Students in Okanagan College’s Residential Construction Program gain practical experience on a construction site. Registration is open now.

Hands-on training: Students in Okanagan College’s Residential Construction Program gain practical experience on a construction site. Registration is open now.

The timing looks good for people with an interest in carpentry.

After a one-year hiatus, Okanagan College’s Residential Construction Program is gearing up for 2017.

Applications are still open for the 26-week program that starts in February.

Complementing the program, the economic picture appears to be in synch. Statistics look promising for future carpenters.

According to the B.C. 2024 Labour Outlook report from Work BC, under ‘top opportunity occupations usually requiring a college education or apprenticeship training,’ carpentry jobs are listed third, behind administrative officers and administrative assistants. What’s being measured is job openings to 2024, with  11,200 predicted for carpenters.

Rob Kjarsgaard, program administrator at the college, says it’s a great program.

“This is one of our most exciting programs because of the amount of hands-on experience the students get. While they’re building a residential construction project it’s a real win-win, because we get to train community members in the skills they need to find local jobs and, at the same time, construct a worthwhile community project.”

Kjarsgaard reports that since 2004, 11 local projects have been built by Residential Construction students, along with local contractors, Rotary members, Kindale members, and various community members.  Projects include five single-family houses, a house for a family of five on Adams Lake band land, a safe house for women and children fleeing violence, a Rotary house, a three-plex for the Shuswap Association for Community Living, housing for Caravan Farm Theatre, and an expansion of the Gardom Lake Camp lodge.

For next year, more work is proposed at the Gardom Lake Bible camp.

Rikk Kieft, executive director for the camp, heaps compliments on the program.

“The quality of instruction for the students working on our lodge has been top notch,” he wrote in an email. “We look forward to partnering with OC for future building projects, as they train individuals to meet the ongoing demand for proficient carpenters in the busy construction industry.”

Busy is an apt description locally.

The building statistics in Salmon Arm to the end of November 2016 were well above the numbers in 2015. For single-family dwellings, housing starts were 54 in 2015 with a considerable increase to 84 in 2016. Modulars numbered 17 in 2015 but nearly doubled to 30 in 2016.

Instructor Rob Barton says when people complete the course, “They can walk onto any framing crew working in the Okanagan-Shuswap and work effectively.”

Shuswap Construction Industry Professionals (SCIP) agrees.

President Joe Johnson says SCIP is proud of its involvement with the program.

“Since 2004 this program has provided training opportunities for many individuals looking to get into the constructions trades. In turn, this has provided quality individuals with training for the busy construction industry.”

The Residential Construction Program is both for students in the senior grades of secondary school as well as adult learners.

Students are asked to register as soon as possible. For more information, call the college at 250-832-2126.