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For Union Carpentry Apprentices, It’s Down To The Wire And Straight Into Networking Opportunities

Union carpenters work in Philadelphia.

The construction industry has been experiencing a steady increase in job openings. In December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that construction brought in approximately 19,000 jobs monthly last year, a 3,000-job-per-month increase over 2021. 

While this is good news for candidates, union contractors should look beyond job boards to ensure these positions don’t sit vacant for too long and that they are hiring the best candidates. One way contractors can connect with top talent is by attending an industry-specific event, such as the 2023 Construction Skills Showcase at New Jersey’s Atlantic City Convention Center.

The showcase, which will be held on Thursday, March 30, is hosted by three union carpentry groups: the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of CarpentersCarpenter Contractor Trust and the EAS Training Fund. Attendance is open to construction apprentices and industry professionals as well as the general public.

“The who’s who of the construction industry are invited to attend, including numerous contractor associations and superintendents as well as retired members who are at a place in their career to provide mentoring,” EAS Carpenters Technical College Executive Director Rob Smith said. “It’s going to be a strong networking opportunity.”

The day will center around a competition, in which 50 EASRCC Training Fund apprentices who are in their fourth and final year of their apprenticeships will have the opportunity to display their knowledge and skills through a hands-on technical challenge. 

The apprentices, who hail from six states plus Washington, D.C., will be competing in one of six categories. Five categories — general carpentry, interior systems carpentry, mill cabinetmaking, floor layering and millwright — will take place at the convention, while pile driving will be live-streamed from the EAS Carpenters Technical College Hammonton campus in Hammonton, New Jersey. One winner will be chosen per group.

“The showcase is an opportunity for the apprentices competing, as their name will be out there as someone who is at the top of their class,” CCT Executive Director Cyndie Williams said. “The contractors in attendance who are signatory to the carpenters union will have access to these individuals’ profiles and can view their skills firsthand.”

Smith said the 50 apprentices chosen to compete are more than qualified after having spent the last four years gaining skills and firsthand work experience. Over the course of their apprenticeships, the competitors completed 800 classroom and shop training hours as well as 7,200 hours of on-the-job training with signatory contractors.

Through the competition, union contractors looking to fill positions can witness the union apprentices' skills and abilities in real time. 

“Someone who wants to participate in this competition and can perform at a high level under scrutiny will stand out to contractors, and it can help them consider people for a variety of positions,” Smith said. “Competitors could be noticed by our contractors as future foremen, assistant superintendents or project superintendents.”

He added that the competition is also beneficial for attendees in industries outside of carpentry, as it can provide an educational opportunity for people to see the differences between residential and commercial construction as well as learn about the types of projects that EASRCC Training Fund apprentice graduates could work on, which include bridge infrastructure as well as construction for healthcare and university buildings and industrial assets, such as power plants and refineries.

“We want people to see a showcase of skills and knowledge that has expanded over time through hard work, effort and dedication to learn a trade,” Smith said. “Our registered apprenticeship programs go back to the ‘40s and ‘50s, so we’ve had a lot of practice in perfecting workforce development training. We look forward to always being at the forefront of developing the next generation of skilled craftspeople and helping support the contractors' workforce need with quality apprentices.”

Those interested can learn more information, access event details and register for the event here.

This article was produced in collaboration between Carpenter Contractor Trust and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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