The Carpentry Technology program at Grays Harbor College (GHC) provides opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds.  Through both hands-on and classroom learning, the program teaches the fundamental knowledge and skills required for those seeking entry-level jobs in construction and fills in the blanks for those seeking career advancement in the industry. Whether students are preparing for employment, exploring a new career, or simply wishing to learn more for personal interests, the Carpentry Technology program has much to offer.

Grays Harbor College Carpentry Program
Students will gain the skills they need to help them be successful in a new career. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor College

While earning a two-year Associate in Technology Degree (AT), students in this program receive hands-on training with the tools of the trade in all phases of residential construction, from foundations, to framing, to finish work. In addition, they study building codes, create drawings, prepare estimates, and practice the applied math of the trade. There’s also a very strong importance placed on professional work habits and safety.

Adam Pratt is GHC’s Carpentry instructor and he truly believes that this program can change people’s lives for the better. “Students can begin the program at any stage in their life and during any quarter throughout the year. There are very few prerequisites, so that makes this program a realistic option regardless of your previous experience or education. Our goal is to train people for entry level jobs while providing them with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills that they can use to build professional careers.”

There is a significant shortage of skilled construction professionals. After completing the Carpentry program, graduates find work with local contractors, or enter the union apprenticeship program, or start their own businesses. GHC grads have the knowledge, skills and tools that they need to be successful in whichever career path they choose.

Kim Smith aims to assist GHC students and graduates with placement alongside partner-contractors. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor College

One of those recent grads, Kim Smith, thrived in the program. After relocating to Aberdeen with her wife, Kim was excited when she discovered the Carpentry Technology program at GHC so she could follow her passion of woodwork. “Out of all of the places that I’ve lived throughout the years,” explains Kim, “Grays Harbor is, without a doubt, my favorite. Enrolling at GHC was an exciting new adventure that I was thrilled to be a part of.” While in the program, Kim admired how Adam taught skills and technical details to his students. “He instills values in his students. He knows that hard work goes a long way and made a point to integrate that into his teaching.”

During her time at GHC, Kim and Adam discussed a way in which she could combine the skills that she’s gained from her past work as a clinical social worker in both the military and civilian sector with the construction skills that she learned at GHC. The result: a unique business that gives back to her newfound community. Kim founded Collegiate Construction with two other recent GHC Carpentry graduates, Tena Dunlap and Ann Jurasin, with a mission to serve both clients and established contractors as a small job sub-contractor. The specific purpose of the business is to employ recent GHC grads while they continue to improve their employability and transition into the workforce. Kim will mentor her employees and assist them with networking in the community and facilitating placement with established partner-contractors.

Grays Harbor College Carpentry Program 1
Students hard at work on the Canoe House project. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor College

“Adam always told me that he knew my social work background would help me. It is part of the reason why I started this company,” says Kim. “There’s a need out there to provide a safe place for students and new hires where they can hone their skills and prepare themselves for full time employment.” Collegiate Construction considers the scope of the project and then matches the needs of the project to the skills of their workers, whether they’re still attending GHC or have recently graduated. “I’m really excited for the future of this company and to see the impact it has on Grays Harbor,” says Kim. “There’s a need in almost every community to address the small jobs that most contractors don’t have time for.  It’s really rewarding work to complete these jobs with local people from the Carpentry program.”

No matter what someone’s prior experience may be, GHC’s Carpentry Technology program can help them achieve their goal of entering the construction workforce with a broad foundation of knowledge that they can use the develop a career in the industry. To learn more about this program, visit the Grays Harbor College website.  To contact Collegiate Construction, contact Kim at 520-870-6327

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