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Hitting the road with ORBA’s 16th road building academy

Dan O'Reilly
Hitting the road with ORBA’s 16th road building academy

With winter firmly entrenched and road construction halted—for the most part—until spring, workers, supervisors, and other industry participants have the opportunity to learn new skills or brush up on existing ones.

Now in its 16th year, the Ontario Road Builders’ Association’s annual Road Building Academy will be held between Feb. 27 and March 3 at the BMO Institute for Learning in Toronto.

It will offer 18 in-persons courses in four different categories: Management and Leadership; Business and Professional; Technical and Safety; and Law and Legal Matters. Six online courses are also being offered and can be taken anytime through BuildForce Canada.

As in previous years the Road Building Academy will offer a certificate in Project Management I and Project Management II in conjunction with the University of Waterloo, under the Business and Professional category. The curriculum is compatible with the project management industry set by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

A major new feature of this year’s event is five new courses. They include Building Positive Workplace Culture; A Day in the Life: Developing the Next Generation of Foreperson, Superintendents and Project Managers; Practical Solutions in Managing Excess Soil; Sustainable Asphalt Pavements; and  Updated: Ontario Traffic Manual Book 7 & Traffic Management.

Teaching those particular courses will be lawyers, university professors, professional engineers, a certified engineering technologist, and industry professionals.

They are among a roster of 30 instructors, including three new ones. They include Metropolitan Toronto University professor and Interim Provost Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano who will be conducting the Building Positive Workplace Culture course.

The other two are consultant Barry Thompson, the instructor for A Day in the Life course, and Engtec Consulting Inc. principal/partner Salman Bhutta who will be delivering the Managing Excess Soil seminar.

Planning for the this year’s academy by ORBA’s education committee began last June and the course content was determined on survey results and enrollment in the 2022 academy, says the association’s marketing and communications director, John Provenzano.

Past courses are evaluated to see if they should run again based on survey results and enrollment and new courses are proposed by the education committee based on issues and participant feedback, he says.

Noting that registration for the courses “goes up dramatically in the new year, he points out that the maximum cut off point for each course is a maximum 20 participants.

As has been the case in the past, ORBA members can take advantage of the Canada-Ontario Job Grant program which provides direct financial support to companies that are training their employees. The grant program is managed by ACHEV.

“Employers are urged to submit their applications (for funding) before the end of the year as grant money is being allocated fast.”

One of the contractors utilizing the program is Capital Paving, which signed up 11 of its employees for a Construction Dispute and Management module in mid-November, he says.

Touching on the Academy’s longevity and success, he points out the academy “has been going strong” for 16 years and was able to pivot and provide courses online when Covid-19 struck.

“The Road Building Academy brings world-class instructors and courses from across North America to Ontario,” says Provenzano, noting that the academy has offered nearly 20 courses per year, while adding new ones to keep the program fresh.

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