With the completion of a $43-million addition that adds 220,000 sq ft to its training space and more than doubles the size of the facility, the Carpenters' union international training center hopes to host twice the number of "students" it does now.

The training center has trained more than 500,000 people since opening in 2001.

The addition includes an expanded millwright training area focused on power generation, renewable energy plant construction and maintenance. There is also a scaffolding construction area with a 30-by-60-foot retractable roof, plus 30 classrooms and two large meeting halls.

“This expansion will enable us conduct classes concurrently and host over 20,000 visitors,” says William K. Irwin Jr., executive director of the Carpenters International Training Fund. “Our goal is to have all of our 500,000 members out here at least once.”

Visitors must first have 100 hours of prerequisite training before being invited to the Las Vegas facility, which operates like a self-contained city, with many onsite amenities.

An average training center stay lasts about six days, with food, lodging and transportation provided. The facility, which offers 100 courses more than 300 times a year, can conduct 900-person capacity classes and feed up to 500 people in one sitting.

The carpenters have over 200 training centers and 3,500 full and part-time instructors throughout North America; the union spends about $200 million on skills training annually.

“This is a ‘train the trainer’ facility,” Irwin says. “This is where trainers from all over the country come to learn and sharpen their skills. There is work coming up and we want to ready for it.”

Carpenters view much of that work as occurring in healthcare and the energy sectors. The union covers floor laying, millwright, cabinet/mill making, lathing, interior systems, pile driving, residential carpentry and general carpentry.

Students learn through a combination of lectures, videos and textbooks, as well as live demonstrations, tests and hands on work.

“We understand that a highly trained workforce is necessary for our contractors and members to compete in today’s market,” said carpenters union general vice president Doug Banes in a statement. “That’s why we are totally dedicated to maintaining and improving the skills of all our members.”

Las Vegas-based PENTA Building Group was the general contractor for the latest addition, with Gin Wong Associates, Los Angeles, as project architect.