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Carpenters construct, erect and repair buildings and other structures made of wood, wood substitutes, steel and other materials.

Carpenters' duties vary according to the type of job: residential construction, other construction (commercial, industrial), or maintenance. In residential jobs, carpenters crib the basement, build the house framework, walls, roof and exterior finish, and install doors, windows, flooring, cabinets, stairs, handrails, panelling, moulding and ceiling tiles. In other construction jobs, they build concrete forms, scaffolding, bridges, trestles, tunnels, shelters, towers and other structures. In maintenance jobs, they repair and remodel existing structures of all kinds.

Most carpentry tasks involve: reading blueprints and/or getting instructions from a supervisor, doing the layout (selecting the materials, planning sequences and methods of work, measuring and marking materials to avoid costly mistakes or omissions), cutting and shaping materials and joining them with nails, screws, bolts or glue, and checking completed units to be sure they are level, square, plumb and the right size, shape and location.

Carpenters must work accurately and economically, and follow national and local building codes. Some carpenters specialize in one type of work such as framing, bench work or finishing work. Carpenters may work alone, in teams or with helpers. There is some risk of injury from slips and falls, falling objects, and sharp hand and power tools. Other working conditions vary from one job to another. For example, on some jobs carpenters work primarily indoors, are permanently employed and work a regular 40-hour week. On other jobs, carpenters work primarily outdoors, are subject to seasonal unemployment, and routinely work overtime in peak periods. Lifting may be required between 11 and 25 kilograms.

To be successful in the trade, carpenters need: the ability to stand, crouch and kneel for long periods of time, manual dexterity, balance for working on scaffolding, the ability to solve arithmetic problems quickly and accurately, and the ability to get along well with others on a work team.

The work is most rewarding for those who take pride in creating a variety of things with their hands and honing their expertise in woodcraft. Carpenters generally acquire their skills through apprenticeship training or by learning informally on-the-job. To enter the Carpenter apprenticeship program administered by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, applicants must have at least Grade 9 education or equivalent (or pass an entrance exam), and find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and select apprentices from among their current employees. Apprentices usually begin acquiring their own tools as soon as they start work.

The term of apprenticeship is four years (four 12-month periods with a minimum of 1360 hours of employment each year). In addition to the on the-job training, the term also requires eight weeks of classroom training for each year. An applicant who has successfully completed related courses of study or work experience, and has the employer's recommendation, can apply for credit toward the apprenticeship.

When apprentices attend training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies. Human Resources Development Canada may provide income support for apprentices attending classroom training. For more detailed information, contact your local Canada Employment Centre. After successfully completing the required examinations and hours of employment, an apprentice is awarded a Journeyman Certificate.

Apprentice carpenters earn at least 60 percent of the journeyman wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, and 90 percent in the fourth year. Journeyman wage rates vary, but generally range from $17 to $25 an hour plus benefits.

Weekly Apprenticeship Training
An explanation

The weekly Apprenticeship Training Program was developed to aid the apprentice and the employer by allowing the apprentice to remain at work while attending the courses required for apprenticeship. The employer looses the apprentice for only one day a week and the apprentice looses only one day in the workweek, thus maintaining a major portion of the earnable wages.

The course generally starts on the first Monday in September. In some cases (like 1999) it can come earlier (August 30). Two days are required the first week because registration and orientation do take a lot of time. After the first week the student is required to attend one day a week. The full duration of the course is 32 weeks. The course is considered a fixed entry, open exit type of course meaning that everyone starts at the same time but a student can finish as early as the requirements are completed. Students are given a student card that allows them entry to the College facilities from 07:00 to 22:00 hours each day of the week. Access to the College computers (remote access) is also available. This allows students to do module testing at a computer such as one they might have at home. If a student can not attend on the regular class day, arrangements must be made with the instructor or an absence will be noted. Eighteen hours of absence means that the student is subject to dismissal. Each day is eight hours long. Two days absent means that the instructor will attempt to contact the student.

Each student must purchase the main text, modules; some supplies and pay a tuition fee. Upon arrival on the first day, registrations are completed, first period students will take an assessment exam, and regular class operations will start. The second day is a regular class day.

The students set of modules will direct them through the course. For Carpentry, all tests are in the computer. The student pulls off module tests on their own while supervised exams must be released by the instructor. Class time will consist of 4 hours of shop time and 4 hours of theoretical time. In the Theoretical section, there will be lectures as necessary, and time for individual work by the student. The instructor is there to aid the student at any stage that help is needed.

Completion of the course will be accomplished as soon as all of the requirements have been met by way of tests and project completion. With the weekly aspect, there are other days in the week that the student may do work and therefore speed up the completion of the requirements. There could also be days when the student may not be able to be at work because of weather or holidays, and if arrangements are made, the student could then come into the college to do some work.

In the past there has been some concern that the student may not be able to retain the material taken the first week on the week of the final exam. This is taken care of by the supervised testing system, which always refers back to the beginning of the course.

Feed Back:
Feed back from the apprentice and/or the employer is encouraged. This type of course has been developed for the apprentice and the employer, and any improvements necessary should come from one of, or both of these bodies.



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