By: George Hong

The Alberta economy is down and NAIT’s carpentry program is down 25% but all the classes are fully booked with waiting lists.

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office provides funding for all the apprenticeship programs in the province. The number of carpentry spots available at NAIT has gone down from 900 seats to 690 seats over the past 4 years. This is directly related to the current economy and the impact on the construction industry according to Allan Jensen, Chair of the NAIT Carpenter Program.

Photo By George Hong

Chair of the NAIT Carpenter Program Allan Jensen

NAIT is the only post-secondary institution in Edmonton that offers carpentry apprentice training.

With the skilled tradespeople experiencing higher than normal unemployment rates, trades workers are taking this opportunity to go to school and upgrade. Taking the eight-week course allows the carpenter to charge a higher rate when they get their next job.

“The increments in the student’s salary are based on passing their training,” said Jensen.

Each 8 week term has a total of 150 registration spots split up between 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students. Seventeen instructors teach students the skills and knowledge to pass the provincial exams. For students with no formal training in carpentry there is a pre-employment certificate that lasts eight months and will give them an overview of the field.

Photo by George Hong

Third-Year Carpentry Apprentice Taylor Hauck

Taylor Hauck started by taking the eight-month, pre-employment certificate at NAIT and he’s back to complete his eight-week technical training course. Once he’s completed the NAIT training course Hauck will need to pass his provincial exam and complete on-the-job training. Hauck can immediately register for his final year to become a journeyman carpenter.

After years of working at a variety of residential and commercial jobs, Hauck has recently joined a newly-launched framing company at the ground floor and is excited to grow with the company.

“It was a real compliment that the founders of the company picked me to work with them,” said Hauck.

Hauck paid approximately $1000 tuition for this period but is eligible for Employment Insurance for the full eight weeks. Third year apprentices can be paid anywhere from 80-90% of a journeyman’s going rate.

Hauck would not consider any other school for his carpentry training. The class consists of 30 students from all across Alberta and a few from Saskatchewan and BC. Hauck believes NAIT is the leader in the carpentry industry and feels lucky represent the Institute.

“The equipment is top notch and the instructors are knowledgeable and hands on,” said Hauck.

Supplied Photo

Fourth-Year Apprentice Carpenter Cathy Hubscher

Cathy Hubscher’s grandfather was a carpenter and she grew up watching him work with wood. Hubscher liked woodworking class in junior high and returned to her carpentry roots a few years after graduating from high school. Cathy enjoys being able to see the fruits of her labour in the form of a house or building.

Hubscher admires the hands on experience of Shop class because she gets to use different tools and equipment to make things she normally wouldn’t get to build at work. The main project for fourth-year students is building a desk which she hopes to take home with her once she’s done. Along with her provincial exam, the Apprenticeship Board will come to examine her completed desk to determine if she passes. If Hubscher decides to keep the desk she will need to reimburse the carpentry program for the cost of materials.

For any students who may want to be a carpenter Hubscher offers some advice: ask your instructors a lot of questions and get some warm clothing!\.

“You have to work outside in the cold and mud, after all this is Alberta,” said Hubscher.

Photo Source: RGBStock Photos