Data predict 13,000 job openings in carpentry in B.C. over the next decade

posted on July 28, 2014

By Alexandra Posadzki, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

By Alexandra Posadzki, the Globe and Mail | Link to Article

British Columbia’s skilled work force is expected to undergo an invisible shift in coming years as the pool of younger workers becomes smaller than the number of aging workers who have their eye on retirement. In a 10-part series, The Globe and Mail looks at the 10 jobs expected to be in highest demand in B.C. in the next decade. This is part three.

Long, unpredictable hours and working through rain, snow and sweltering heat can make carpentry a challenging job. But for Scott Huisman, a Red Seal-certified carpenter with PCL Construction, being able to step back and look at a completed project makes it all worthwhile.

“The weather can be challenging at times,” said Mr. Huisman, who got hired at PCL about eight years ago, straight out of high school.

“But personally I’d rather be out in the weather than stuck in the office. That’s one of the reasons I do what I do. As miserable looking as it can be at times, I do enjoy being out in the elements.”

There will be more than 13,000 new job openings in carpentry over the next decade, according to current labour-market data. While some carpenters work in manufacturing, many of them will work on construction sites like Mr. Huisman, who is currently employed at a 30-storey tower in downtown Vancouver.

Being a carpenter on a construction site is a diverse job that includes tasks such as installing wood backing into walls, pouring concrete and erecting temporary structures to protect passersby on the street. Because carpenters focus on the structure of the building, it’s vital for them to understand all of the other aspects of the project, including electricity and plumbing. Otherwise, they could end up placing something in the way of an electrical outlet or a plumbing route.

“You have to understand how the systems come together,” said Mr. Huisman.

“Otherwise you’ll find yourself in the bad books with everyone else and you’ll be redoing your work over and over.”

One of the biggest projects Mr. Huisman has worked on was the new Surrey City Hall building, where he spent two and a half years.

Mr. Huisman recommends getting additional certifications that allow you to operate machines and provide first aid, in order to stay competitive.

Over all, he says, carpentry is difficult but rewarding work.

“You get to play with the big toys, so it’s fun,” said Mr. Huisman. “It’s a little boy’s dream.”

Click here for fast facts on being a carpenter.