Career Connections: Giving H.S. Students a Head Start to a Solid Future

A program found in schools across North America is laying the foundation for a strong, bright future for boys and girls of all backgrounds. It’s a program created by today’s professional carpenters for the benefit of tomorrow’s professional carpenters.

It is the United Brotherhood of Carpenters' Career Connections program.

Connections is designed specifically for high school students to introduce them to the craft and trade of carpentry. Student learn skills, but they also learn about the trade as a career choice.

The Carpenters International Training Fund (CITF) created the program when UBC leadership saw the need to provide young people with the knowledge and skills needed to choose wisely and prepare for advanced training in a registered apprenticeship program.

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 Career Connections

“Carpentry is a viable alternative to college, and our goal with this program is to give schools across North America the tools to present that option to their students,” said Carole O'Keefe, coordinator of the program for the UBC. "As a result, Career Connections is one of the UBC’s most valuable recruiting tools.”

Career Connections authors are UBC carpenters from around North America who have both teaching and field experience. Before adding a project to the program, the projects are first built and tested in UBC training centers.

The program is presented to teachers by trained and certified Outreach Specialists—also veteran carpenters with teaching and field background. They support the instructional experience through mentoring, ensuring safe shop practices, speaking to groups, or arranging for professional speakers such as contractors or manufacturers.

One component of the program is "One Trade, Many Careers," which focuses on skills that research shows employers value most: Goal setting, good attitude, punctuality, teamwork, and taking initiative. It also introduces the typical construction job site. Other programs are basic and intermediate carpentry skills, residential construction, safety, blueprint reading and math review.

A major feature of the program is teacher support. Lessons are accompanied by a Teacher Annotated Edition with rubrics for each project, grading guides, a safety operation checklist, a skills matrix, and estimated lesson times. 


The program’s Virtual Shop is an animated software program with step-by-step execution of projects. The disk also contains a safety tour of the shop and more than 1600 objective questions.

Completing the four-year program provides graduates with a jumpstart into their career as a professional union carpenter. Graduates receive advanced placement at UBC Pre-Apprenticeship and/or Apprenticeship Programs.

“It’s a win-win for all facets of the construction industry,” O'Keefe said. “Students are presented with a great opportunity, the UBC maintains a pipeline of professional carpenters, and the industry receives highly-skilled professionals for their projects.”