Editor's Note: CSI is pleased to publish this blog from Ken Lambert, Director of Industry Development and Technical Services for the International Masonry Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an idea or opinion you would like to share with your colleagues in the construction industry, please contact CSI Content Strategist Peter Kray at Pkray@csinet.org. He would love to help publish your thoughts.
Recently, I attended a six-hour in-person continuing education class for my state’s Construction Supervisors license renewal. Here are some interesting takeaways from the experience:
Given the past nine months of partial shutdowns, endless webinars and virtual meetings/conferences, it was refreshing to be at a location outside of my home or office with other people. With proper safety measures in place such as masks, physically distanced learning spaces, and a limited group size, I felt comfortable learning in this environment and found the class more engaging than the six hours of online courses I had to take to comply with the renewal regulations.
Improving Diversity in Construction
There were 16 of us taking this class, plus the instructor. Out of the 17 in the room, the average age was around 40. Most of the attendees were project managers, site superintendents, project engineers, or foremen. Unfortunately, though women make up roughly 10 percent of the construction industry, there were none present for this training. It was an important reminder to me that we still have a long way to go to increase the number of women and minorities working in construction—especially at the supervisory level.
Residential Construction on the Rise
Anecdotally, residential contractors in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are extremely busy, according to both class attendees and other industry professionals I speak with, including suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers. That includes remodeling, additions, and new home construction. Homebuilders in the class said their spec homes are often sold by the time they start hanging drywall, and usually over asking price.
Energy Codes and Green Building Practices
We spoke a lot about the Energy Codes and green building practices. I went to this class a week after I sat in on an AIA webinar on pending Massachusetts Energy Codes. I can say that there is a major divide on this topic between contractors/homebuilders and architects/consulting engineers. The architects a week prior seemed to have no real issue or problem with the trend towards net-zero carbon emissions for a new building or even existing buildings/retrofits. But the contractors and people that build and sell homes felt that the trend is too extreme. Some said it makes the process and installation too complicated and time-consuming, while others just noted the associated additional material and labor costs. Who pays for it all? A pending homeowner? A developer will not, and someone will have to.
Importance of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning is important- especially in industries where details and rules are constantly changing, like construction, design, medicine, etc. With all the required knowledge, I think it is normal to get caught up occasionally and think, “I should probably know that.” Continuing education gives us a structured time to focus on important topics and changes. This makes us better at what we do.