Human resources, the effective and strategic management of individuals within a company, is the area that the Construction Industry Training Network (CITN) has seen the greatest uptick in with course registrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But part of that focus has also been directed at creating an environment that is respectful to those working in construction such as women and Indigenous people, two employment sectors the construction industry needs today to fill a growing gap in the labour market.
CITN program manager Kerry Vital said there is a strong interest in courses such as harassment and bullying, while BuildForce Canada has introduced a new course Understanding Systemic Racism.
“I think there is a lot of emphasis on this today,” she said, adding the focus on creating an environment at work that is non-threatening has been highlighted by the “Me Too” movement in the U.S. which brought forward women’s complaints of sexual harassment and assaults.
“It is getting better but there is still a lot of work to be done,” she said, adding the education courses offered can play a significant role in mitigating such incidents.
Other human resources courses that are being focused on today are alcohol and drug use while COVID has raised new issues such how to deal with individuals working from home.
Each year, the CITN trains the equivalent of a small town in construction learning courses, putting 4,500 individuals through virtual, online and classroom learning in the 750 courses offered annually.
Vital said the pandemic has sparked more interest using virtual methods.
“We had a lot of employers paying for employees to take courses a few months after the pandemic started,” she said.
Other areas where courses are offered include business management, labour relations, technology training, safety, computer software programs and legal courses.
“We do a lot of the training for about 85 per cent of the construction industry in B.C.,” Vital said, adding the organization is non-profit and is funded by its member partners and course revenues.
The CITN partners are contractors, associations, progressive unions and trainers. It works closely with the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association and progressive unions such as Canada West Construction Union.
The CITN also provides training and apprenticeship management for employee associations under the progressive union banner.
While the training is directed towards students in B.C., Alberta and the Yukon, Vital said students come from all across Canada.
The CITN’s average price of a course is $250 with a lead-in price as low as $150. Vital said the CITN is also able to provide some free courses online such as goal setting.
There are some courses, said Vital, that can only be taken in the classroom. The virtual classes or webinars utilize Zoom and the CITN offers lectures on a regular basis throughout each month and on a variety of topics.
Virtual class courses for December include: Nuts & Bolts of Builders’ Liens (Dec. 10); Getting Paid and Managing Cash Flow in Construction (Dec. 14); Change Order Management (Dec. 15-16); Read the Full Contract – A Deep Dive into CCDC-2 (Dec. 15); Arranging and Maintaining Your Bonding Facility (Dec. 15); and Field Scheduling 101 -Who Does What When in the Field (Dec. 21).
The B.C. classroom courses include: fall protection, scissor-lift operating training, occupational first-aid Level 1, construction estimating, and frame scaffold competent person training.
Some other classroom sessions offered in December are Leading People to Peak Performance (Dec. 15-16), Supervisory and Management Skills (Dec. 9-10), and Negotiation and Conflict Management Skills (Dec. 17).
Online courses, where individuals progress at their own pace, are ongoing.
Other courses offered include: Bear Awareness (for those who work in rural areas); Advanced Rigging; Behaviour Based Safety; Working in a Respectful and Inclusive Workplace; and Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis.
The CITN also provides custom courses designed to meet a company’s specific needs and will source the training providers, book the instructors and venue and catering.
Vital said the courses are not restricted to those actively working in the industry but can help individuals obtain courses leading to a job.
“One of the other things we do is offer an employment network,” Vital said, as the CITN is able to match unemployed skilled labourers with companies that are looking for individuals through its employment hub.
When companies are looking to crew up, the CITN can provide resumes of available employees.
In order to stay on top of current issues that may require enhanced education, the CITN participates in national and provincial committees.
In addition, the CITN is involved with BuildForce Canada, the BC Common Ground Alliance, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, the Industry Training Authority of B.C, and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to ensure it is meeting the needs of industry.