Although COVID-19 is necessitating a number of changes from previous events, the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) is proceeding with its premier learning forum early next year.
The 14th annual ORBA Road Building Academy is set to take place in person at the BMO Institute for Learning in Toronto from Feb. 22 to 26.
“We do have a contingency plan in place to provide a virtual program in the event that the BMO Institute is required to close due to the pandemic,” says ORBA’s marketing and communications director, Abigail Wright Pereira.
All health and safety protocols will be in place including reduced class sizes to ensure physical distancing. ORBA is allowed 48 participants per day, a 60 per cent reduced capacity, which is why the association is encouraging early registration, she says.
First launched in 2007 with 10 courses, the 2021 academy will feature 20 in-person classes and 10 online ones, which will available all year round. Fourteen of those courses are new, including a University of Waterloo Project Management Certificate.
Targeted to industry members aiming to become project management specialists or simply to develop the necessary skills to deliver projects on time and budget, it will consist of a first five-day module and subsequent five-day module at the 2021 academy.
A senior partner with World Class Productivity Inc., Carl Sergeant will be one of the instructors, along with Kristine Hatfield and Kiron Bondale who are senior consultants with same firm.
After each year’s Academy the association sends a survey to participants asking what courses they would like to have offered again. Those responses, along with the pressing challenges the industry faces, are evaluated by ORBA’s education committee which meets early each spring to develop the program for the following year. Member feedback was the catalyst for offering the project management certificate, says Wright Pereira.
Other new courses include Effectively Managing Remote Teams, Path to Digitation, Being Crisis Prepared, and Stop Running Past Diversity.
The program brochure describes that course as a “comprehensive training workshop designed to help companies create a diverse, multi-generational workplace culture.
“Diversity and inclusion is not new in our industry,” says Wright Pereira, when asked if the seminar is in direct response to movements such as Black Lives Matter. A three-part webinar series on racial, gender, and generational diversity was presented by ORBA in October.
The Academy is divided into four different categories: Management and Leadership; Business and Professional; Technical and Safety; and Law and Legal Matters. But there are no restrictions or perquisites and attendees can sign up for whatever course interests them.
Over the past couple of years ORBA has brought courses that were once available only in the U.S., such as the Asphalt Institute’s Paving Inspector Course, to the Academy, says Wright Pereira.