Archive for October 2014
Holland College’s Heritage Retrofit Carpentry instructor Josh Silver hosted a visitor for Down Under recently, when Robert Brodie from Swinburne University of Technology, located in Melbourne, Australia, visited the program.
Robert is traveling across North America to study how specialized skills are certified in Canada and the United States, research that is being funded by a fellowship from the International Specialized Skills Institute. The institute is an independent organization that works with Australian governments, industry and education institutions to enable people to hone their skills and experience in traditional trades and professions, and in leading-edge technologies.
In addition to visiting Holland College, Robert has visited Algonquin College in Perth, Ontario; Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton; and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary.
In each location he reviews the curriculum, teaching styles, and delivery methods for carpentry programs. The purpose of gathering this information is to develop the parameters for a higher qualification in the field of carpentry in Australia.
“You can get a degree in building in Australia, but it’s not a skills-based program. This training would be for a tradesperson who wants to distinguish themselves from other tradespeople,” he said.
In Canada, apprentices work toward becoming journeymen, and may choose to earn their Red Seal, a nationwide credential that gives tradespeople the ability to work anywhere in Canada without further testing or certification. In Australia, Robert explained, there is no such credential.
“In Australia we have a national training package, and so someone who trains in South Australia can take their qualification to Queensland and it will be the same; because it’s a nationally recognized training qualification.
“In heritage work, of which there’s plenty in Australia as well, how do we know that you can do that work and that you understand what’s required to work on a heritage building? So my philosophy is to create something above standard qualifications. So if there were a restoration of a heritage building, you would need to be on a register.”
This credential would raise the profile of tradespeople who have qualified for it.
“They’ll have a higher product knowledge than required just to become a standard tradesperson,” Robert said.
“We need to create some prestige for the trades in order to attract people to the trades and for the community to actually hold us in greater esteem.”
At the end of the year, Robert will present his research to the International Specialized Skills Institute, and it will be presented to government for consideration and hopefully used to shape a new credential for accomplished carpenters.
He said there are many similarities between the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program at Holland College and the program he teaches in Australia. Plans are underway to exchange assignments between Robert in Australia and Josh’s Heritage Retrofit Carpentry students here.
“What we’ve discovered is that we’re alike in many ways,” he reflected. “We both feel that we’ve got a future together, albeit that we’re on opposite sides of the world…we think that there’s room for some collaboration. What we teach is essentially the same.”