May 2015

Ironworkers Commit to Training Leaders in the Field

Ironworkers leading ironworkers is one of the predominant features of our three to four year apprenticeship programs. But why should that leadership stop once an ironworker graduates to journeyman? Through the Iron Workers Superintendent Training Program administered by IMPACT and the National Training Fund, it doesn’t.

Launched in 2012, the Superintendent Training program has grown every year, resulting in 815 level-1 and 460 level-2 ironworker and contractor leaders. Today’s competitive environment requires employers to consolidate their overhead, which has employees wearing many more hats and working in cooperation with each other to cover more projects. This environment necessitates more ironworkers becoming leaders in the workplace through superintendent training.

“The superintendent’s role has expanded and evolved,” says Bill Brown, IMPACT management co-chair and CEO of Ben Hur Construction in St. Louis. “In today’s market, technology is propelling the industry forward and superintendents need to stay ahead of the curve.” 

Since its trial run at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland, in May 2012, the program has been improved based on feedback from ironworkers and contractors as well as responses to changes in the construction industry.

The primary objective of the course is to train journeyman ironworkers with leadership experience to be superintendents. For the level-1 training, students review the Superintendent Training for Ironworkers reference manual and complete a series of online learning exercises consisting of readings and tests for comprehension. Version 2 of the online level-1 class went live in July 2013.

Ironworkers who complete the online training and the Iron Workers foreman training are then qualified to take the level-2 superintendent training. Attendees work in small groups with instructors over a three-day, in-person period to learn the responsibilities of superintendents; how to manage project schedules, crises, information, the jobsite and safety; communication skills; how to close out a project; and basic construction finance and law.

“We’re training our ironworkers to be on the cutting edge of technology, partially through the e-learning modules,” says Iron Workers General President Walter Wise. “We have also brought tech training into the hands-on part of the superintendent course and teach the students how to use tablets, electronic plan rooms, laptops and smartphones on the jobsites to make our ironworkers more productive and, most importantly, keep everyone safe.”

Ironworkers who have come out of the course say its added great value to their careers.

“The Iron Workers Superintendent course is a must have for anyone who wants to be serious about their career,” says Christopher Moisan, a journeyman ironworker from Local 725 (Calgary, Alberta). “I feel that all ironworkers would benefit greatly from the knowledge they would be taking out of the course, even to just make [them] think differently.”

“[It’s] refreshing to see a training program developed and facilitated by ironworkers for ironworkers,” said Michael Trudel, a construction manager for Eskimo Steel. “The Iron Workers need to position its talent in roles that have influence, and this program is a great start.”

Upcoming classes include:
June 2-4, Local 5 (Washington, DC)
July 13-17, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Instructor Training)
September 22-24, Akron, Ohio

More information about the superintendent course can be found at http://bit.ly/superintendenttraining.