IMI: Building Tomorrow’s Markets and Workforce
Journal: December 2002
Several hundred BAC and management officials involved in capturing new markets and shaping tomorrow’s workforce convened in November for the IMI Annual Meeting and second annual IMI Masonry Industry Education Conference. The program featured thought-provoking speakers, plus updates on numerous IMI initiatives aimed at strengthening union masonry markets and increasing the union masonry workforce.
In the general session, former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros painted a dramatic picture of tomorrow’s demographics, most notably those for Hispanics, the fastest growing minority in America. “Recognize that, and act on it,” Cisneros advised.
Strategies for recruitment and retention included the use of mentoring programs and foreman training, which IMI launched this year. IMI is also training for the new technologies of tomorrow’s markets, such as AAC, air barriers, and new code requirements. Ronald H. Fanning, chair of a leading school design firm, Fanning/Howey, said his firm is such a fan of masonry and IMI that they are now referenced in their specifications, but he cautioned the audience to make sure the workforce is prepared and quality-minded.
International Council of Employers Chairman and IMI Co-Chair Eugene George led a panel of contractors in assessing the state of union masonry today, particularly workforce development. “That is the number one challenge,” agreed Bill McConnell, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). Both McConnell and John Trendell, chair of the Tile Contractors’ Association of America’s (TCAA) Labor Committee, praised IMI training programs, and urged attendees to continue with recruitment and retention efforts.
Workshops on best practices for Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees allowed participants to hear what is working in some parts of the country, and to compare ideas with a wide cross-section of union training decision makers. Other workshops discussed the 2003 national and regional apprenticeship contests, and IMI special projects such as craft-specific training curriculum and a training database.