Vancouver Island University has partnered with KSG Consulting Ltd. to provide hands-on learning at home construction sites in north Nanaimo, noted a VIU press release. (Vancouver Island University photo)

Learning outside the classroom suits VIU’s carpentry program just fine

Vancouver Island University has partnered with KSG Consulting Ltd. to provide hands-on learning

Some types of university programs don’t lend themselves to Zoom classes, and VIU found a way for carpentry studies to happen during the pandemic.

Vancouver Island University has partnered with KSG Consulting Ltd. to provide hands-on learning at home construction sites in north Nanaimo, noted a VIU press release.

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The university said it worked with KSG owner Ken Grewal to come up with a work plan that meets health and safety guidelines while allowing for practical training. A detached duplex in the development will be built by VIU carpentry students in their fall semester.

“We knew we needed to get our students out on-site, so it was a question of how are we going to do that in a safe way,” said instructor Joe Blain in a press release.

Students in the carpentry foundation program will be issued their own set of tools and sanitizing of tools and high touch points will happen twice a day.

Cam Frenette, VIU carpentry instructor, said in the release that the university consulted with WorkSafe B.C., the Canadian Home Builders Association and the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance in its planning.

“We teach workplace safety in all of our trades classes, and this is an additional layer of safe practice our students are learning,” Frenette said.

VIU has advised it will be moving to “hybrid” learning delivery – a mix of online and in-person instruction – in the fall semester and the press release said carpentry students will benefit from more time on a construction site than in previous years, with six weeks of online classes followed by 22 weeks on-site.

“Maximizing time on the tools is what it’s all about for the foundation students,” said Frenette.

RELATED: Trades jobs the way of the future on Vancouver Island?

KSG has provided opportunities for instructors to bring students onto active construction projects for the past five years, and Grewal said in the release that it’s been a good relationship.

“We are always looking for ways to get more people into the industry, whether it’s my company or other companies that are doing the hiring,” he said. “For a lot of the students this is their first time on a construction site and learning how the process works and how different trades come and go gives them a better perspective about what it takes to build a house.”

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