Philly apprentice carpenters compete in day-long skills contest

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "This business, the tradespersons' world, the carpenters, is about competition," said Robert Landy. "We want to be the best and we want to teach our students to strive to be the best."

Landy is the Director of Training at the Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Committee, which trains individuals of all skill levels to learn an invaluable trade. Students persevere through years of practice and manual labor to become journeymen and move up the ranks. But today, they focused more on having some fun.

"Today is our 55th annual open house/contest where our top carpenter students, floorlaying students, mill cabinet students, and millwrights all compete against each other to win cash prizes, awards, trophies, plaques, and just overall recognition," said Landy.

Each participant had to qualify by taking a test. One of the apprentices who made it to the competition level was Priscilla Torres, who made a career change to pursue carpentry.

"I think girls might be, like, timid to do, you know, a trade where it's mostly male dominated," she said. "But if you put your mind to it, it's possible."

Torres spent roughly 8 hours building a confined room with four walls and windows. Across the hall, Eric Grafton was building a wishing well.

Grafton was happy he decided to learn to become a carpenter at an early age.
"We have a huge part of building new things, you know, whether it be hospitals and schools," he said. "You're working with a bunch of guys you'll work with for the rest of your career. You meet new people as well. I think it's a great choice I made."

A new generation of tradespeople are needed to fill the shoes of those who are ready to retire. Luckily, the Philadelphia Carpenters JAC partnered with the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and the General Building Contractors Association to create CARP.

CARP is an acronym for the Carpenters' Apprentice Ready Program, which is exclusively designed for individuals with no prior experience. It is also intended to increase the availability of opportunities for women, minorities, and residents of Philadelphia county.

To learn more about the Carpenters JAC and available opportunities, visit their website.

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