Career Opportunities for Members at BAC/IMI International Training Center
Journal: Issue 1 - 2008
What can you learn at the new John J. Flynn BAC/IMI International Training Center? In just the few months since the campus opened in September 2007, it has already held training programs for pre-job and working apprentices, journey-level members seeking to upgrade their skills or add new ones, aspiring and working foremen and supervisors, BAC instructors, and signatory contractors. In short, there is something for every BAC member, in every craft.
The Center, which includes training space, classrooms, design studios and offices, also serves targeted audiences such as architects, construction managers, and other construction professionals who come away with visible proof that union masonry is alive and well.
The First Graduating Class
Those who participated in the first pre-job training at the Center in late 2007 were more than a little intimidated by the campus and by the rigorous program. In addition to studying their craft, they learned about jobsite expectations, safety and health regulations and procedures, trade unionism, and the benefits of being a BAC member. “The first week, I thought I would never catch on,” said one pre-job student, “but the instructors are great, and I am getting the hang of it now.”
As the Center filled up with other programs for journey-level members,
For working BAC members, the effort to come to Maryland for continuing education is a worthwhile investment. Local 15 Missouri/Kansas tile finisher Michael Morse, who came to the Center to advance to mechanic status, says it gave him the skills and confidence to be a good tile setter. “It’s been a terrific education.”
Increased work opportunities and earnings are what attracted participants to a two-week refractory class in December. When the Center offered the class, “I had to go,” said Local 3 New York apprentice Gene McAndrew. “I like to travel and I like the money. Plus, it’s interesting work.”
More Career Choices
One illustration of how the training hub serves all the spokes of the BAC network efficiently is the Instructor Certification Program (ICP), which along with technical courses, provides new instructors with the tools to become good teachers. Until now, BAC and IMI instructors convened for one week each year. Now, IMI offers specific courses as needed throughout the year. That is a big help, said Don Hunt, Training Director for Local 15 MO/KS. “Most of the members that become instructors are very good at their particular craft but lack the background to develop lesson plans or the necessary computer skills,” Hunt noted. “ICP is the key.”
It does not stop there. IMI’s “train-the-trainer” is another approach that works for specialized training. Rather than wait until they can fill a class at home, BAC Locals can send a trainer to the Center. “I feel that IMI is on the right track,” said Hunt. “We must properly train our trainers so we can continue educating our journey persons. Continuing education must become a culture within our membership.”
Continuing education translates into more career choices for BAC members, whether it is specialized trades like restoration, or advancement to foreman or supervisor. Strong interest among members in the IMI Supervisor Certification Program (SCP) drove two groups of Local instructors to the Center in January, all of whom were eager to offer the program to their Local’s aspiring foremen (Level I), and working foremen and supervisors (Level II). “I got a lot out of it,” said Local 7 New York/New Jersey tile instructor Victor DeSalvo. “It expands what you know.”
Step Into the Lab
At a recent SCP “train-the-trainer” class, even seasoned instructors learned something new during a New Products class on the flowable terrazzo product, Terratop™. IMI worked closely with the product manufacturer to test the product and customize a training course that ensures that BAC members alone are certified for the work.
Attendees at the popular Grout Certification course in January got a similar sneak preview of SpecMix’s self-consolidating grout, another research and development project aimed at increasing BAC market share through exclusive training and certification. It makes sense to partner with IMI, said SpecMix official Tom Peterson, “because we can get to the contractors and architects to get the word out faster.”
With training and educational programs for BAC “undergraduates,” continuing education classes for members and other professionals, research and testing of new products and systems, and other specialized programs, the International Training Center is fulfilling IU President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn’s description of it as “BAC University.”