IMI Launches Training Conference
Journal: December 2001
With a solid foundation now in place for the BAC/IMI Apprentice-ship & Training System, the time was ripe to focus on ways to further enhance BAC recruitment and training efforts. To that end, IMI convened key participants at its inaugural Masonry Industry Education Conference in November. The goals were ambitious yet critical: creating a more unified approach to training, while keeping both potential and current members committed to union masonry.
The Conference brought together members of Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATC) from across the Union. Opening the Conference, BAC President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn led the call for greater communication and consistent standards when he said, “Our ability to provide skilled craftworkers to our contractors will have a direct impact on whether or not the unionized masonry industry gains or loses market share.” Attendees were also updated on a host of IMI initiatives to enrich both the apprentice and journey-level experience for BAC members. On the apprenticeship front, IMI A&T personnel are working with JATCs to make apprenticeship standards more uniform, and developing national curriculum for all BAC crafts.
IMI Apprenticeship and Training Director Steve Martini said IMI will continue to keep up on new teaching technologies, such as computer distance learning, “but we’ll also get back to basics,” such as competency-based standards for the assessment of craftworkers at all stages of their careers, and standard ways to measure training results.
For BAC journey-level members, IMI’s lifelong learning programs include cross-craft training in all BAC crafts and continuing education programs in new products, safety, refractory, and more. IMI has partnered with the National Labor College to offer college degree programs for BAC members, with credit given for work experience. Other educational partnerships are in the works. New in 2002 will be IMI’s Supervisor Certification Program (SCP).
Wrapping up all these efforts is the A&T Skills Data Base, which tracks and documents the lifelong acquired skills of BAC members. It will be fully implemented by Spring 2002.
Now more than ever, effective recruitment strategies are critical. After a successful round of radio ads and new recruitment materials in 2001, ongoing efforts include targeting audiences, tailoring messages, and preparing instructors for changing demographics. “We are definitely making inroads,” says Martini.
The blueprint for this exhaustive effort has been the BAC A&T Task Force Report issued in 2000, a collaborative effort among BAC Local officers and staff, IMI training staff, contractors and other experts.
“Don’t wait,” was the message from conference keynote speaker Charlie Thornton, chairman of The Thornton-Tomasetti Group, Inc. and founder of the ACE Mentor Program. Thornton, a former bricklayer, said that even if a construction slowdown materializes soon, “now’s the time to be training for three or four years from now.”