Skilled Trades Careers

SkillHero Spotlight: Cam (Red Seal Carpenter & Instructor)

DateMarch 26, 2024
Cam, Red Seal Carpenter & Instructor

With a rich lineage of carpenters in his family, Cameron Frenette's journey into the trade was almost predestined. Yet, his path was anything but straightforward.

Cam’s journey started as an elementary school teacher. His passion for carpentry led him to acquiring his Red Seal, and eventually becoming the Carpentry Instructor and Department Chair at Vancouver Island University (VIU) where he educates students today. Vancouver Island University (VIU) In this interview with SkillHero, Cam describes the many twists and turns of his career, his passion for teaching, and his vision for the future of carpentry education. Check out our post on Instagram spotlighting Cam and the carpentry program at VIU. You can also check out this Q&A on our LinkedIn account. Let’s dive in!

Q&A with Cam, Red Seal Carpenter & Instructor

SkillHero: Could you walk us through your journey to where you are today? What were some pivotal moments that influenced your career path?

Cam: My journey wasn’t straightforward. I didn't plan to teach carpentry; it just happened to be a door that opened. I bumped into a former teacher who suggested teaching. Initially hesitant, I was eventually persuaded to try teaching at VIU for a “seven week trial period”, and that was seven years ago!

SkillHero: Before VIU, you mentioned a brief stint teaching in elementary education. How did that experience influence your approach to teaching carpentry?

Cam: Teaching early education wasn't what I expected, and lacked the tangible feedback that I crave from carpentry. Carpentry fulfills my need for immediate feedback through the physicality of building. It's shaped how I teach, emphasizing hands-on learning and real-world application.VIU Foundation class SkillHero: What are the essential skills you look for in your students?

Cam: Problem-solving and an openness to learning are key. Carpentry is vast, so we aim to equip our students with a foundational skill set that enables them to tackle a variety of challenges, emphasizing adaptability and continuous learning.

SkillHero: How do you see technology, like SkillHero's platform, enhancing carpentry education?

Cam: It's about connection and awareness. There's a huge range of opportunities in carpentry that students aren't always aware of. Platforms like SkillHero could significantly shorten the exploration time by showcasing the diverse paths within the trade and providing aspiring tradespeople with jobs, training, and apprenticeships.

SkillHero: For someone considering a career in carpentry, what paths are available?

Cam: There are two main paths: starting work and entering an apprenticeship program, or taking an entry-level program to gain basic skills before pursuing a certification. Both paths emphasize on-the-job learning supplemented by formal education. VIU Carpentry Education

SkillHero: How has being raised in a family of carpenters influenced you?

Cam: It's had a huge impact. Growing up, using tools and building were part of life. This background not only influenced my career choice but also how I teach, valuing hands-on experience and the mentorship aspect of learning.

SkillHero: What's your favorite aspect of teaching carpentry? Cam: Seeing the lightbulb moments when students grasp a new concept is incredibly rewarding. Our program allows students to build a house from scratch, offering a tangible sense of accomplishment and a real-world application of their skills. VIU House Building Project SkillHero: Looking forward, what do you envision as the future challenges and opportunities in carpentry?

Cam: The labor shortage is a significant challenge. However, with technological innovations like SkillHero, plus the evolution of building science and a focus on energy efficiency, there are more new opportunities for carpenters than ever. As an instructor, staying ahead of these trends is critical for preparing our students for the future.

Cameron Frenette's story is a testament to the potential within vocational education. His approach to teaching carpentry bridges traditional craftsmanship with modern demands, preparing students for a future where skilled tradespeople are more vital than ever. Through his story and the work at VIU, the message is clear: the future of carpentry is bright, and it's built on the foundation of dedicated educators like Cam.

Start your Journey into the Trades

Feeling inspired by Cam's journey and thinking about starting your own in the trades? SkillHero is here to help guide you from the get-go. For starters, check out our blog posts on what a typical day as a carpenter looks like, how to become one, and resume examples to reference. SkillHero Carpenter Illustration Embrace the opportunity to craft your future in the trades. Join SkillHero for free and discover a world where education, career advancement, and a supportive community converge to empower the next generation of skilled trades professionals. Start your journey today and be part of shaping the landscape of the trades for tomorrow.