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NECTF Hosts First Career Connections Conference

Millbury, MA – The New England Carpenters Training Fund (NECTF) hosted its first Career Connections Conference recently to increase awareness of the curriculum developed by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) for high school and pre-apprenticeship carpentry programs.

The conference was held at the central training facility for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters in Millbury. There are already 14 schools in Massachusetts that use the Career Connections curriculum, with four others preparing to purchase the book series.

The Carpenters International Training Fund (CITF) created the program when leadership of the UBC 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.

One component of the curriculum 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 students to the typical construction job site. Other components are basic and intermediate carpentry skills, residential construction, safety, blueprint reading, and math review.

A major feature of Career Connections 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.

Completing the four-year Career Connections curriculum provides graduates with a jumpstart into careers as professional union carpenters. Graduates receive advanced placement at UBC Pre-Apprenticeship and/or Apprenticeship Programs.

NECTF is receiving tremendous feedback on the program.The Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) is expected to be presented at the June conference, and events similar to the Millbury conference are being planned at different locations throughout the region.


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

The Millbury conference was attended by more than 30 participants from 15 high school programs. Lyle Hamm, Director of the New England Carpenters Training Fund kicked off the event by addressing some of the benefits of adopting the Career Connections curriculum. Additional speakers included Maura Russel, Educational Specialist from MA Department of Education and Liam Tran, the Director of New Program Development at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Attendees participated in four different workshops and presentations..

The Career connections program was presented to teachers by trained and certified Outreach Specialists—also veteran union 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.

–Cheryl Lieteau, a 25 year member of Carpenters Local Union 218 is an Instructor and Career Connections Outreach Specialist at the Apprentice Training Center in Millbury. She organizes the team, conducts monthly meetings and reports to Lyle Hamm with updates. She coordinated the logistics of the conference and introduced speakers and presenters.

–Brian Connearney is a 12-year member of Carpenters Local Union 218. He is an Instructor and Career Connections Outreach Specialist who works with schools to implement the curriculum. During the conference he conducted a tour of the NECTF Training Center

–Theresa Haymon, a 15-year member of Carpenters Local Union 33, is a Career Connections Outreach Specialist who recently joined the team. She conducts outreach to schools at their career fairs and presents the curriculum to schools that may be interested in adopting it. She held a workshop on Women in Construction during the conference.

–Tom Fischer is a 30-year member of Carpenters Local Union 475 and has been a member of the Massachusetts Department of Education MCAS Development Committee for the past 15 years. As head of the carpentry program at Hopedale High School he currently uses the Career Connections curriculum and presented on how it may be utilized in both a carpentry vocational program as well as a technology engineering program.

–Zach Depace is a 7-year member of Carpenters Local Union 108 and a Carpentry Instructor at Chicopee Comprehensive High School.  He facilitated a hands-on demonstration of the grading  rubrics and skills matrix used for the projects included in the curriculum.