Knowledge is Power
The need for continuing education is more than a local or even regional issue - it's of national importance. Now, an online, national program recently launched by the Masonry Institute of Michigan (MIM) promises to revolutionize continuing education for the masonry industry.
Partnering with the International Code Council (ICC) and Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), MIM has gone online with MV-Tech, a series of training courses. Tony Darkangelo, MIM's marketing director and MV-Tech Online program coordinator, expects a high demand for the program outside of Michigan. "Continuing education is necessary, no matter what trade you are in," he explained. "It's going to increase professionalism in the industry, producing problem-free walls."
The first five courses are now available at www.mvtechonline.com, including Bracing Above-grade Masonry, Cleaning New Masonry, Cold-weather Masonry Construction, Flashing Masonry and Grouting Hollow-unit Masonry. With the success of this cost-effective program, additional courses will be added.
MCAA Executive Director, Michael Adelizzi, stressed the need for more education in the industry: "It's critical to train the employee, the contractor and the consumer so they know what a quality product looks like." Adelizzi added that this is why MCAA is now "seriously moving in the direction of certification."
Eventually, masonry certification will be written into specifications qualifying a mason contractor for any complex project. This is the first step toward making that happen. Adelizzi hopes this will help tradespeople do the job right the first time, which will, in turn, prompt consumers to insist on masonry.
According to Hamid Naderi, PE, CBO, managing director, product development for ICC, "We are hoping that many from various segments of the construction industry, including labor, will benefit greatly from the high quality, state-of-the-art and easily accessible technical programs and presentations made available by MV-Tech."
Ed Davenport, owner of Davenport Masonry Inc. in Holt, Mich., agreed. "It's the future of our industry. Every progressive industry has some kind of interactive or Internet-based training." Davenport is eager to get his employees started using MV-Tech. "Our goal is to make MV-Tech a mandatory part of the bargaining process. Continuing education has to become part of every tradesperson's professional life. We intend to have our people begin the courses immediately."
Jerry Painter, owner of Painter Masonry in Gainesville, Fla., also plans to have his crews take MV-Tech courses right away, noting that "Our industry has neglected formal training. This has been one of our issues for a long time."
Painter is also excited about the concept of individualized, Internet-based training. "We need to train individually, outside the classroom setting. I can teach one man through a computer program a lot easier than I can teach 10 of them in a classroom. Everyone doesn't learn at the same pace. I like this idea of computerized modules."
"Anything that increases the level of knowledge, increases how [a worker] views himself, and it darn sure increases him in my [eyes]," he said. "First, I know he's willing to get more education, and second, hopefully he did learn something."
He also appreciates the inherent cost-effectiveness of MV-Tech, noting that while some companies shut down for a day or two to send all of their employees to training, from both a monetary and scheduling basis, he simply can't afford to do that. With MV-Tech's online courses available any time, students can take the classes without taking time away from work.
Also, when a worker is trained, he or she takes pride in not only being competent in doing the work, but also in being able to intelligently discuss methods and systems with owners, project managers and co-workers. A new attitude of confidence will permeate the job site; productivity will increase, creating a win-win environment.
MIM created and developed MV-Tech due to the need for this kind of education in the industry. According to Adelizzi, there have been few educational outlets available to mason contractors.
Each MV-Tech course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and includes one interactive learning activity and two brainteaser sections with three questions each. Also, the program is easily accessible; courses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so users can learn at their own pace and convenience. Courses may be paused and progress restarted if the user is interrupted. The user will receive a certificate acknowledging he or she has completed the course, which will be valid for three years. There is a nominal cost to take each course.
Courses are open to everyone in the industry - no affiliation with a trade or professional organization is necessary. General contractors, mason contractors, masons, architects, engineers and building officials will all benefit. MIM plans to produce six new courses every year, with expansion to include specific courses for owners, designers and others.
Davenport is hopeful about the impact MV-Tech will have on the industry. "We need to continue to have more training modules. This will enable masonry to increase market share."
With MV-Tech online, now is the time to take advantage of this incredible educational opportunity. Don't be left in the dust - create that new attitude! Then promote it along with problem-free walls in every bid package.
For more information, visit www.mvtechonline.com.
About the Authors
Caitlin Johnson is a writer for The Story Pole magazine.
Kelly Ronan Mozena is a writer for The Story Pole magazine.