May 23, 2012
Continuing education is vital for the industry
View from the Board | Keith Sashaw
It wasn't that long ago when people in construction could take their training in whatever field they wanted to specialize in, confident that what they learned would see them through their careers.
Now, unless one engages in continuous professional development, regardless of their role in construction, they will quickly be overtaken by new technologies or new processes.
We are already seeing the tremendous impact sustainability is having on the construction industry, where everyone from the architect through to the project manager, site superintendent and even the tradesperson on site is expected to be fully familiar with sustainable building practices.
Everyone needs to be aware of the concepts behind programs such as LEED and the importance of ensuring the appropriateness of materials and practices.
This trend is going to be increasingly relevant as new technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) become more mainstream and accepted in the industry.
We are also seeing increasing requirements in areas such as safety, as everyone understands the impact that work-related injuries can have on productivity and morale.
This is reflected in not only new equipment but a whole new approach to practices done on the job site.
As we move into an era that will be characterized by extreme skill shortages across the board, the industry will have to look to improved tools and systems that will replace the need for labour with increased sophistication.
This too will mean that it will be more important to ensure that all operators are properly trained with the new technology and fully understand how to make it work efficiently and appropriately.
The prudent construction employer will need to recognize this need for continuous upgrading and professional development, by ensuring they are budgeting for their crews to take the necessary courses, and to encourage their workers to participate in training sessions.
We already see the more successful companies embrace this paradigm of continuous professional development by allocating “personal training accounts” so their employees can take the courses necessary to operate in today’s increasingly complex environment.
Design professionals in the industry such as architects have long had the requirement to take additional training as part of their professional requirements.
We are now seeing the importance of everyone taking the time necessary to engage in professional development in order to stay on top of their game. This commitment to continued lifelong learning will have positive impacts on safety and productivity for everyone involved.
Keith Sashaw is the president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association and is also a member of the Journal of Commerce Editorial Advisory Board. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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