Canadian Home Builders’ Association spearheads new training strategy. 

Gone are the days when construction workers could just strap on a tool-belt and get to work on a site.

Today professional associations are working to ensure that trades are properly trained with the right credentials.

This week a key step was taken by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in its strategy to develop a new approach to industry training in the province.

It received approval for the first industry-led training program and credential to be recognized by the Industry Training Authority, a new government agency.

"I think it is very positive," said Tim Regan, president of the local chapter of the CHBA.

"It propels us to a position of more credibility because we are now heading it up.

"We are slowly becoming more of a political force and are now able to govern the apprenticeship programs. What it will do is streamline the these programs and make them more efficient and get people recognized more quickly."

Regan, owner of Vision Pacific, also believes breaking the training down into modular components will draw more people into the industry and get trained people to work sites more quickly.

Previously workers had to complete training in a number of fields to get certified even if they only wanted to work in one field.

The Residential Construction Framing Technician program was developed in consultation with builders, trainers, workers and other stakeholders in the residential construction sector.

It is the first specialty-training program of its type in Canada.

"The traditional industry training model has not met the needs of the home building industry for a long time," said M.J. Whitemarsh, CHBA-BC’s chief executive officer.

"Sixty per cent of B.C. builders tell us that they have difficulty finding qualified workers. Clearly there is a need to create more responsive system. By doing so we’ll be better able to build world-class British Columbia home building industry, workforce, and skills development system."

CHBA research shows that of the 60 per cent who had difficulty finding workers, 39 per cent identified framers as the most difficult workers to find, followed by carpenters at 36 per cent.

The new program will also dovetail with the nationally recognized Red Seal carpentry program.

And uncertified framers already working in the homebuilding industry will have the option of receiving formal certification based on their demonstrated abilities.

"This creates both a defined career pathway where none has existed before, and a high-quality training program that’s well-aligned with this industry’s current needs," said Brian Clewes, CEO of the Industry Training Authority.

Training will consist of a combination of in-school and on-the-job components, with both examinations and practical evaluations.

Already more than a dozen B.C. post-secondary institutions and private trainers have formally expressed interest in offering the training, which is expected to become widely available this fall.

It will take between 38 and 52 weeks to produce a qualified framing technician. Not only will workers learn framing skills they will also learn about safety techniques in the hope that the overall safety standard within the industry will be increased.

Over 80,000 new job openings are projected by 2015 in construction work generally, in addition to another almost 20,000 job openings associated with the Olympic Games and related projects.

The CHBA expects half of these jobs will be in residential construction.

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