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Reinforcing steel installers find their distinct skills in high demand

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by Richard Gilbert

The occupation known as ironworker in British Columbia is being split into three distinct trades, including reinforcing steel installers.

Trades Training

The occupation known as ironworker in British Columbia is being split into three distinct trades, including reinforcing steel installers.

A pilot program for reinforcing steel installers was offered at Sprott Shaw Community College in 2005.

The program features a mix of three weeks’s in-class training and one year of practical on-the-job training. It had 16 students in level one and 16 students in level two. However, once this program was complete, the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) began a separate process to make the reinforcing steel installer a Red Seal program.

“The process to make the reinforcing steel installer a Red Seal trade separate from the iron worker general was initiated by Alberta, where this trade is known as Ironworker, Ironworker — Structural/Ornamental, and Ironworker — Reinforcing,’ said Lindsey Langill, director of Red Seal with the Industry Training Authority (ITA).

“In order for a trade to be considered for Red Seal approval, three jurisdictions must have the trade designated. Reinforcing steel installer must be a stand alone trade before it could be brought forward at a national level.”

Even though efforts in B.C. to have the steel installer program certified were developed outside the province, there is still a lot of local interest in this program.

“My goal is to run this program again a few times after April 2008,” said Cal Purcell, vice-president of Sprott Shaw Community College.

“After we ran the pilot program, we had to evaluate and change the curriculum and identify what changes were needed. We are waiting for the program to be approved before it goes into regular delivery. We hope that will happen next year.”

There was a high demand for seats in the pilot program from students and employers looking to hire the graduates.

Lower Mainland Steel of Surrey hired most of the graduates of the pilot program in order to help the company meet its increased workload.

“We have taken part in the reinforcing steel installer pilot program. We use its curriculum as part of our three-day worker orientation,” said Greg Hubbard, vice president of operations at LMS.

“We do this for all workers we hire and send to a job site.”

Hubbard added that he is looking forward to the completion of the National Occupation Analysis (NOA) for the ironworker reinforcing steel.

“The existing designation of ironworker generalist is not specific enough. What we did is very specific. We were contracted to develop a very specific program that did not include as much general ironworker skills,” he said.

A reinforcing steel installer places and secures rebar in formwork, works on foundations, walls, slabs and prefabricates columns and zones.

They also cut, sort, and site bend rebar and other materials used in reinforcing various concrete structures.

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