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With technical training, VCC students highly sought after for employment

Posted on October 13, 2021

Student analyzing construction materials

 

Originally published on Trimble.com

Founded in the late 1940s, the Vancouver Community College (VCC) Steel Construction Modelling program is one of only a handful of steel detailing programs worldwide. Over the years, the program has developed a reputation for being a valuable source for well-trained graduates with firsthand technical detailing experience.

With the industry constantly in search of candidates with technical detailing experience and students asking for more opportunities to learn software they would use in the field, VCC began exploring new ways to provide the next generation of industry leaders with the technical knowledge they need to start and grow their careers. In 2008, after a donation from Trimble, VCC began teaching students how to use Tekla Structures, a structural building information modeling (BIM) software for creating, combining, managing and sharing 3D models. 

When student graduate Lindsay Meikle started the steel detailing program in the Fall of 2019, he began an academic journey that would eventually lead to his first job as a steel detailer.

Fast-tracking students for employment

Lindsay Meikle worked as a welder and fabricator before an injury forced him to transition to an office-focused career. He was drawn to the steel detailing program at VCC because of its proximity and reputation for fast tracking students into in-demand construction careers. 

The 10-month program started with several months devoted to Autocad for drafting before Meikle moved into steel detailing where he learned the codes and standards that would be expected of him once hired into the industry. With a solid foundation in place, he began learning about BIM and began using Tekla Structures for 3D modeling, first learning the training manual before applying those skills to specific industrial and commercial projects.

By the time he graduated with the Stan Phipps Award, which is given to the top academic performer of the year, Meikle had used Tekla Structures for four out of the ten months of the program and had begun working part-time as a junior steel detailer for Exact Detailing prior to graduation. Exact Detailing, a steel detailing company based in British Columbia, uses Tekla Structures extensively on everything from residential staircases and industrial projects to large commercial developments.

“My first job at Exact Detailing was to help with drawing and editing for a new large data center in the Pacific Northwest,” said Meikle. “It was a complicated project with a lot of moving parts. I could not have done my job without the prior training using Tekla Structures. It gave me the foundation and experience I needed to hit the ground running on this project.” 

Meikle is a year into his job and has worked on several interesting projects, including steel and pipe modeling, miscellaneous steel and numerous commercial jobs, all aided by his Tekla Structures training. 

Fueling the local labour pipeline

Matt Arnott, the Director of Admin at Exact Detailing is no stranger to VCC as the company has been hiring graduates from the steel detailing program since 2000. While it also sources students from a wide variety of other programs, VCC is preferred due to its extensive Tekla Structures training, which gives incoming candidates a leg up compared to other new employees. 

“I can’t stress how valuable this training is for us because it provides incoming job candidates with the skills they need to succeed on day one,” said Arnott. “Otherwise, they have to learn on the job, which typically takes at least six months to a year, time that we have to source from existing staff who are willing to impart their knowledge to bring them up to speed. It’s very time intensive and can detract from getting work done on in-demand projects.” 

Arnott also credits the VCC with helping students understand the industry and what’s expected of them - from how things are built, to giving them the vocabulary they need to understand the workflow. Graduates adapt well once they’re out on the job, and the technical skills they acquire are typically long vs. short term.

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Build solid foundations in the CAD & BIM technologies for an advanced start in the engineering, architecture, and construction science industries. Learn more about the program at our free virtual open house Experience VCC on Oct. 26 & 27.