Building trades compete in downtown Toronto

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Special to GTA Construction Report

Toronto was host to the 22nd annual United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America National Apprenticeship Contest at Roundhouse Park in downtown Toronto Aug. 22-23.

The contest featured some of the best apprentices and young journeypersons from across Canada vying for title of top dog in their respective trade. Competitors in carpentry, drywall, floor covering and the millwright trade were required to pass comprehensive written tests followed by an intensive all-day project build.

First place in the carpentry category went to Chris Erbus, Loc. 343, Winnipeg. Other first place finishes include James Theriault, Loc. 675, Toronto, in drywall; Daniel Moxom, Carpenters Loc. 27, Toronto, in flooring; and, Steve Ford, Loc. 1009, Quebec in the millwright competition.

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This year the usually male-only contest featured a woman – a carpenter’s apprentice from St. John’s — Kirstene Reyes. One of the first-ever women to compete in the contest, Reyes competed against eight men through the two-day event that wrapped up with a project building test in busy Roundhouse Park in downtown Toronto.

While she didn’t win top place, Reyes represents a vanguard of new faces that the building trades most desperately hope to recruit: young, bright talented women who see trades as a viable option to traditional career choices.

“Our members have built this city and it is great to have the next generation of carpenters showcasing their skills to the people of Toronto and people from around the world at such a public venue,” says Mike Yorke, president of the Carpenters District Council of Ontario’s (CDCO) Local 27 in Woodbridge.

Daniel Moxom

Colleen Dignam, provincial training coordinator, CDCO, says the contest is an opportunity for the union’s contractors, government partners and other stakeholders to see first hand the type of skills apprentices develop through training.

“These are the best tradespeople that the country has to offer,” said CDCO executive secretary/treasurer Tony Iannuzzi. “They are individuals who have honed a craft, excel in their respective fields and are responsible for our existing and expanding infrastructure throughout Canada. It is wonderful to see all their training and skills showcased though this competition.”

The apprentices were selected from previously won competitions across the country to embark on a challenge of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in front of a panel of judges, media and the general public. Apprentices were judged based on both speed and accuracy as the competition seeks to identify the most qualified, highly skilled tradespeople in the country.

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“It is a friendly competition that has a mandate to raise awareness of the skilled trades that are part of the Carpenters Union and hopefully encourage youth to consider trades as possible professions,” Carpenters Local 27 president Mike Yorke.

The CDCO  represents more than 20,000 women and men working in a wide range of skilled trades, a news release said.

Ontario’s recent budget allocated $130 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years to build highways, public transit, bridges, hospitals and schools.

“The construction industry is expected to grow. That’s why now is the time to focus on recruitment, training and retaining a skilled labour force to meet that demand when it arrives,” said Iannuzzi.

CDCO Locals 27 and 675 and Local 2309 of the Millwrights Regional Council of Ontario will host the 2014 competition.

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