The Bedrock of Quality Craft Training
Now celebrating two decades of success, the International Masonry Institute's (IMI) Instructor Certification Program (ICP) has achieved some notable milestones. A program that started with a few dozen IMI training instructors now reaches several hundred participants each year and covers all the crafts represented by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).
Requirements for the 200-hour teacher training program, which takes at least five years to complete, have become equally sophisticated. Attuned to the practical needs of local Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees and the masonry industry in general, the program's evolution has also proved a boon to BAC members at all career levels. A hallmark of the ICP approach is a standardized approach to craft training, which provides a critical level of expertise to BAC trained craftworkers.
The ICP program consists of three types of courses: professional courses concentrating on instructional skills and knowledge; courses focusing on technical skills, including new technology, practices and standards, and materials and equipment; and seminars and special workshops on key topics, such as new materials and techniques being introduced into the industry.
IMI's Supervisory Certification Program is offered in a train-the-trainer format to allow rapid disbursement throughout the BAC network of locals. After making its debut at ICP 2003, the two-tier program for current and potential supervisory personnel of BAC signatory contractors is delivered locally. The first level for forepersons covers topics such as productivity, personnel management and professional relationships. The second level for superintendents covers advanced project management, industry history and technical issues.
To keep the curriculum useful and relevant, the program is continuously updated.
One new 2004 offering, "Promoting Respect and Developing Solidarity," had instructors discuss cultural diversity and sexual harassment prevention, and learn strategies for teaching such skills to their local's members. That benefits both current and potential members, notes IMI Education Director Colleen Muldoon. As recruiting efforts step up and spread to wider audiences, "we have to offer new services," she says.
The outdoor technical courses give instructors at all levels practical, hands-on experience for teaching subjects like stone veneer or scaffolding safety.
ICP graduation requires a minimum of 200 hours of course work in both required and elective courses. Instructors must demonstrate mastery of course content and present to the Certification Committee a portfolio of materials and techniques, training plans, schedules, supplies and tools. The IMI-appointed Certification Committee includes certified instructors and academic professionals.
Even after graduation, the learning continues. Some post-certified courses include ACI certification, cross-craft training in all BAC crafts, building codes and standards (for both structural design and exterior veneer), computers, education evaluation instruments, hazard communication, labor relations, communication, motivation, planning, legal issues and multiculturalism.
"ICP has inspired me to push myself and to encourage others," says BAC Local 74 IL instructor Robbie Marshall. "I have learned that I can and do make a difference."
BAC Local 5 NJ instructor Phil Graziani credits ICP for making him "a real teacher ? someone who can recognize students' needs and create courses to meet those needs."
Max Porter, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.M. ASCE and President of The Masonry Society, says, "Overall, [ICP is] an excellent training program and instructor certification program.
"I was especially impressed with the actual constructed masonry mock-up wall sections," Porter continues. "The wall section showing the examples of mistakes that typically can occur during construction especially caught my attention ? particularly the mistakes showing the code violations."
This year's class included 161 instructors, 13 of whom graduated. To date, the program has produced 178 certified instructors, including IMI Director of Apprenticeship and Training Steve Martini. "As a training professional, ICP raised me to a higher level of expertise and professionalism," he says. "And we are always on the alert for opportunities to do even more."
For more information, please visit www.imiweb.org.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.