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The Yankee Express

North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund provides training, opportunity and more in Millbury

North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund program participants

By Christine Galeone
On Monday Sept. 13 at 6 p.m., the North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund will hold its monthly free information session at its Millbury Training Center, located at 13 Holman Road.  Although the meeting will provide detailed information about the NASCTF, for some attendees, it will provide much more. “It’s a gateway to the middle class,” Thomas Fischer, NASCTF Executive Director, said. 
That’s because the fund provides four years of high quality tuition-free training and apprenticeship to qualified applicants. The program has led to multitudes of successful careers in the construction industry. 
The apprenticeship program consists of a combination of classroom instruction, workshop training and job experience. Over the four years, the apprentices need to receive more than 640 hours of classroom instruction and up to 8,000 hours of on-the-job training at worksites in order to complete the program. As the apprentices gain experience and knowledge, their wages continue to rise until they become full carpenters, which are referred to as journeymen.
And program applicants don’t have to have prior construction industry experience. “It really is what’s the best fit for your passion and maybe your skillset,” Fischer said. He added, “You have to work incredibly hard to become a journey level carpenter.”
  The program, which has training centers throughout New England and New York, offers training in commercial and residential carpentry, floorcovering, pile driving and mill cabinet. With more than 2,500 apprentices currently enrolled in the program, it continues to grow.
Ziven Drake, the NASCTF Technical Coordinator, attested to the fact that’s it’s not just recent high school graduates and burly men who succeed in the program. Although she’s a petite woman, she thrived in and completed the program before taking on her current role at the nonprofit. In recent years, she’s also seen single moms complete the program to improve their financial situations for the health of their families. “My incredible instructors can teach people how to be great carpenters,” Drake said, noting that what matters most is a person’s attitude, ability to be conscientious and desire to learn. She later added, “When I found this place, it was a gem.”  
Fischer, who has a Master’s degree in Education and worked for many years as a high school educator, agrees. And both have seen how maintaining strict COVID-19 safety protocols and procedures has actually improved the program. Fischer explained, “Access to live online learning has been an upgrade to our training, and it’s been well received as well.”
Since the apprenticeship program is self-funded by the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and the council’s signatory building contractors, the NASCTF isn’t in need of funding or volunteers. But it could use the community’s support in another way. “For people to continue to spread the word that we exist,” Drake said.
Additionally, Fischer hopes that people will see beyond the misconceptions about carpentry that are prevalent in our society. “It’s a very viable way to make a living,” he said, noting that choosing to pursue excellence in a vocation is no worse or better than choosing a college education. He added, “The lobster is no better than the filet mignon.”    
More information about the nonprofit is available on the NASCTF website, NASCTF.org.  If you would like to suggest a Blackstone Valley nonprofit or initiative for this series, please contact Christine at [email protected]