Maine to Launch Carpentry Training Program

toolsA residential carpenter apprenticeship program sponsored by the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Maine has been approved by the state’s labor department — an important step in addressing the home building industry’s need to train and retain skilled carpenters.

Using coursework developed by HBI, the workforce training arm of NAHB, the program includes 4,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training and 288 hours of classroom instruction over two years.

Association president Ashley B. Richards Jr., who is also the acting executive officer for the HBA, said the new program will not only help his members get the help they need, but also serve as a model for apprenticeship programs in other building trades.

And a bonus: By administering the classroom portion of the program, the association will be able to provide a significant discount to members who participate by agreeing to hire the apprenticeship applicants and provide the on-the-job training.

“Our members were saying, ‘Listen, I can’t find any good carpenters, we need help, we are desperate, we are busy,'” Richards said. And because Richards serves on HBI’s board of trustees, he knew that the non-profit’s apprenticeship models have been certified by the Department of Labor – and thus ready to plug in to a state-sponsored program.

“HBI has all that stuff already in the can, already approved by the federal government and already recognized nationwide,” Richards said. That meant he had little problem getting the program approved by his own state’s apprenticeship council.

The council requires that apprentices get classroom training, and builders or remodelers who hire students in the apprenticeship program must pay for that training – but are reimbursed half of the $2,400 tuition by the state.

However, because the HBA will hire the teachers, find the classroom and administer the program, it is able to knock off half the cost for its members, making the cost to the builder or remodeler only $600, instead of $1,200.  That makes the program a great member recruitment tool, Richards said.

The training covers all of the basic aspects of the carpentry trade, including proper tool and equipment use, safety, rough framing, exterior and interior finishing: “critical and necessary skills for craftspeople in the home building and remodeling industry,” Richards said.

Richards is already looking ahead to the next step. “I am trying to get pre-apprenticeship training in high schools and vocational schools,” using the HBI-developed curriculum, he said. “For welding, culinary arts, you get a certificate, but construction students only get a high school diploma — there is no [pre-apprenticeship] standard.”

Meanwhile, he is knocking on doors to find students for the carpentry program, talking to career counselors and veterans’ groups to talk up the advantages of completing an apprenticeship. “Once they are qualified, they are qualified for life.  You are giving them something that no one can take away,” he said.

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  1. Raul Leon says:

    Great job! Please keep me posted on the success of the program. We are running a similar program in Mexico and we are bringing workers under the guest worker visa program to different residential construction companies in the U.S. Our program has been successful but is lacking the accreditation you have received from the Department of Labor. We strongly believe your route is the best way to get new blood into the trades. All the best!

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