By Hans Peter Meyer
Special to The Record
Most of what’s happening in the Comox Valley’s “innovation” sector isn’t about tech. It’s about people creating new products and services, based on their smarts, and finding ways to reach markets far beyond our borders.
Integrated Carpentry Tutorials is a good example. Richard Dickenson is a 35-year carpenter and a former college instructor. He’s now a knowledge sector entrepreneur, growing a business that’s meeting needs across the country.
What makes Integrated Carpentry Tutorials innovative?
Teaching people a trade is not unique. Teaching them how to pass a university-level exam is. As is the focus on research skills. The ICT course teaches carpenters how to find things in Canada’s National Building code, and how to understand the complex questions posed in the ITA practice exams teaches them how to pass the exam. These are research skills they need to know to be successful trades people, successful navigators of today’s information economy.
“Many of the carpenters I meet have been in the trades for 15-20+ years,” Dickenson says. “They can handle the challenges of the job, but after years away from school, sometimes without a high school diploma, they often lack the confidence to challenge the Industrial Training Authority (ITA) Red Seal exams.
“Without a Red Seal they’re not getting the pay and benefits they are due. Without a Red Seal, they’re also limited in their ability to help junior tradespeople. And Canada needs trained tradespeople.”
Learning to network
Dickenson has watched how his classrooms have become hotbeds for job finding and support. It’s one of the unexpected benefits of the Red Seal Prep courses. Business people are practiced networkers. Tradespeople, not so much. Isolated on job sites or focused on specific tasks, this key information-sharing activity is rarely practiced.
“Cross pollination,” said Dickenson. “The whole ‘six degrees of separation’ thing. What so many of us take for granted outside of trades, it’s helping carpenters move forward.”
He has plans to use social media to extend what happens in the ICT classrooms.
Dickenson also sees knowledge transfer as important for the industry, and for specific communities. That’s why ICT is very interested in working with First Nations carpenters.
“Many First Nations communities are isolated. Yet they’re full of smart young people who need access to apprenticeship opportunities and supports. I’m seeing our successful Red Seal guys taking skills back into the heart of their communities, supporting new trades people, and creating intergenerational change. That’s exciting!”
ITC has a Red Seal prep course for Comox Valley area-working carpenters starting May 7. FMI see bit.ly/1SJTee2 or call Dickenson at 250-331-1117.