Building Success: Education and Industry Are Working Together to Build a Skilled Workforce in Construction

By Whyte, Don | Techniques, February 2006 | Go to article overview

Building Success: Education and Industry Are Working Together to Build a Skilled Workforce in Construction


Whyte, Don, Techniques


Today's secondary, postsecondary and career and technical education students stand poised at the center of industry trends that will benefit them enormously. The country is embarking on a construction boom. In fact, according to a 2004 report published by Brookings Institute, more than half of the buildings that will exist in 2035 have not been built yet.

As baby boomers approach retirement age, a significant portion of the existing construction workforce will be leaving. The demand for quality skilled craft professionals will be critical, and this will create a wealth of possibilities for young people who seize that opportunity. It is critical to the future of our industry that we reach out to our young people and expand career-training opportunities.

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), headquartered in Gainesville, Fa., was created specifically to address the workforce shortage facing our industry and to build awareness of the rewarding construction career opportunities by providing a structured career path through which students can make their goals a reality.

Ten years ago, 11 of the largest construction companies and representatives from leading contractors, manufacturers, and national trade associations came together to establish a quality standard for certification and training in various facets of the construction industry. Organizations competing against one another in business forged partnerships for the common goal of investing in training for craft workers, keeping all construction craftspeople safe, improving the image of the industry, and providing a means of career advancement. Their efforts resulted in the establishment of the nonprofit education foundation, NCCER, which is affiliated with the University of Florida, M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction.

With the support of industry and academia for a standardized training and credentialing program for our future workforce, a curriculum offering of five basic crafts in 1996 has evolved to more than 40 training programs, more than 45 entry- and journey-level assessments, safety training that leads to OSHA certification, and management and leadership preparation.

NCCER depends on a network of more than 500 accredited training sponsors, accredited training units, and accredited assessment centers to train craft professionals according to industry-driven standards. All of our master trainers, instructors and proctors are trained and certified to provide the best teaching and mentoring possible to individuals in all stages of their construction careers.

Industry and Education as Partners

As the accreditation body for the industry, NCCER establishes and enforces the benchmark for quality training. Working in partnership with industry and academia, NCCER has developed a system for program accreditation that is similar to those found in institutions of higher learning. This accreditation process assures that students receive quality training based on uniform standards and criteria. The process is made possible through a network of more than 500 training facilities in 50 states and eight countries. We train craft professionals according to quality educational and industry standards.

As part of its accreditation process, NCCER has developed the Instructor Certification Training Process (ICTP). This program ensures the uniform and consistent delivery of training. Through this process, NCCER certifies the Master Trainer. In turn, the Master Trainer certifies the local Craft Instructor. A typical Craft Instructor is a journeyman craft professional or career and technical educator trained and certified to teach NCCER's Contren[R] Learning Series. This network of certified instructors ensures that NCCER training programs meet the standard of instruction set by the industry. There are more than 3,100 Master Trainers and 27,000 Craft Instructors within the NCCER instructor network. …

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