Trade Student Spotlight: Damien Tom & Joel Sampson – Apprentice Carpenters

by Stu Rhodes –

Though their names are different, brothers Damien Tom (below right) and Joel Sampson (below left) share many things, including the same employer, a great work ethic and a strong desire to learn more and advance their skills in their chosen trade of carpentry. This was not always the case.

Both had left school without quite meeting graduation requirements. Enter Kelly Sampson, their mom, who told them, “Enough is enough, and it’s time to get back to school!” So they started the TASK (Trades Awareness, Skills, & Knowledge) program offered out of the Individual Learning Centre in partnership with Camosun College in September of 2013.

“The TASK program was great,” said Damien, “because it gave us a chance to see several different trades and we got good general knowledge about safety and tool use.” Joel piped in, saying: “TASK really helped with common sense too. We both really liked what we learned about carpentry so when we heard about the Saanich carpentry program offered at Stelly’s we wanted to do it too.”

While they were participating in TASK they also completed their remaining language arts requirement for graduation and then got the math credit they needed for grad from the carpentry program through an innovative, integrated curriculum approach. By the end of the Saanich carpentry program they had accumulated enough credits to graduate but had also qualified to advance to Camosun College for Level One technical training in carpentry.

Part of the Saanich carpentry program requires students to participate in a work experience placement with a community-based employer. They work 100 hours unpaid and then transition to paid employment if they have managed to demonstrate the appropriate work ethic. Their boss, Jerry Wakefield of Jerry Wakefield Construction, said: “I don’t think the boys have missed a day since they started with me over two years ago (other than time spent at trade school).” He went on to say: “They’re reliable and polite. They’re hard workers with a great disposition and they get along with everyone.”

So far, Damien prefers concrete form work while Joel prefers framing. They each got to do plenty of both when they helped construct the new four-storey building just being completed right now in Brentwood. They pass by this structure almost every day and they are very proud to be able to look at it and say “We built that thing!”

The TASK program provided them with a number of certificates. They’ve had a chance to use their Traffic Control Certificate (flag person) and Fork Lift Operator Certificate since working for Jerry. They have their sights set on returning to Camosun fairly soon to tackle Level Two Carpentry.

They would like to acknowledge a few people for helping them get to this point. Thanks to Jerry for giving them a chance and gradually introducing them to the rigours of the trade and the culture of the work place. Thanks to mom, Kelly, for “… making us go back to school!” Thanks to grandpa for helping them get to work when they didn’t have a ride. Thanks to the “two Wendys” from ILC for TASK and English. Thanks to Tom Newton, Camosun carpentry instructor, for really helping them master the concepts and get through the program.

Joel and Damien are an excellent example of students who tried a trade sampler program, found their fit, then went on to trade specific training and employment. Bravo!

Contact Wendy Walker at ILC for more information on TASK. Contact Stu Rhodes (250-415-9211) for more information on how to get involved as a student apprentice or as an employer sponsor in this, or any other career program in Saanich School District. View the promotional YouTube video, “Jump Start Your Career.”

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