Resiliency is the ability to spring back; to recover readily from adversity. Our communities have come back from natural disasters and economic challenges, but how will we recover from the mass retirement of skilled construction professionals and safety code officials already underway?
A 2014 survey of code enforcement professionals found that during the next 15 years, a loss of 80 percent of the existing workforce is expected, with more than 30 percent planning to retire within five years of the survey — by 2019. Such a massive exodus of public safety professionals could have a serious impact on communities.
Where do we start?
The International Code Council realizes that with the loss of so many experienced safety professionals, changes in technology and advancements made in building safety codes, it is more important than ever to have a code knowledgeable workforce ready to enter construction professions directly out of school.
In 2009, ICC piloted its High School Technical Training Program to offer students at technical schools the opportunity to learn what is required to become a construction professional. By pairing practical hands-on construction techniques with classroom lessons on the requirements of ICC’s “International Residential Code” for building safe homes, students develop a working understanding of the code.
ICC’s HSTTP is a flexible educational program divided into four parts: building, plumbing, HVAC and electrical. Th is four-part structure enables a technical school to integrate one or more parts of the program into its current construction trade curricula to better provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of construction trades. Students completing all elements of a part, including a final exam, receive a nationally recognized Certificate of Achievement from ICC.
Since 2011, HSTTP has awarded 949 certificates to 891 students in 43 different schools in nine states. This program succeeds because it simply makes sense in many ways. Upon successful completion of the program, students are ready to enter the workforce, contribute to the economy and ensure their communities continue to build. The HSTTP opens doors for students to have careers in various fields of construction. Many will continue their education to become inspectors, code officials, plans examiners or other rewarding construction professionals.
HSTTP by the numbers
HSTTP Certificates of Achievement awarded since 2011
IRC Building = 521
IRC Electrical = 185
IRC Plumbing = 86
IRC HVAC (mechanical) = 100
Additional customized courses:
IRC Masonry = 50
IBC Commercial Building,
Architectural = 7
The technical education turnaround The Association for Career & Technical Education reports the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent. The graduation rate in 2014-15 for traditional high schools was lower at 83.2 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
One story we consistently hear from many HSTTP participants is how they were not thriving in traditional high schools due to a lack of motivation. The students had difficulty participating in class, completing assignments and even coming to campus. When they enrolled at a technical school and began to learn a trade, their attitudes toward education changed and school life got better. They were fitting in with a community and achieving goals. Although they found the curriculum challenging, they were also excited to see results of their progress at the end of each day. They became more resilient to challenges in and out of school.
HSTTP students also see firsthand the relevance of reading, math and science in their trade and become more interested in academic classes as well. They realize those skills are needed in order to navigate through the code book and comprehend the requirements for safe construction.
Passing the torch
As code officials and tradespeople retire, we need to encourage students better suited to technical schools to consider futures in all aspects of the construction trades. By introducing them to career opportunities as contractors, tradesmen and code officials, we can show students a road to success.
The HSTTP is the perfect opportunity to teach our youth — the next generation of leaders — about resiliency in their lives and how each of them can contribute to the resiliency of a community. It empowers them to race to the future as a new generation of skilled construction professionals responsible for, and capable of, building safe and resilient communities everywhere.
In partnering with high schools, ICC aims to forge an advanced workforce knowledgeable about building safety codes. Students receive the self-assurance and confidence that can only be gained from hands-on education and, together, our community is stronger and safer.
To learn what students and instructors are saying about the impact of HSTTP in schools, visit www.iccsafe.org/hsttp, or contact: HSTTP Liaison Jim Ellwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 422-7233, ext. 5701.