The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is now offering a construction planning program to give workers project management skills.
According to Jessica Williamson, spokesperson for the school, the SAIT already offered a Construction Management Certificate of Achievement, providing the technical background needed to tackle construction management positions.
But the industry approached the SAIT and highlighted the urgent need in the construction sector for workers with project management skills. To accomplish this, the SAIT's School of Construction and School of Business (Professional and Leadership Programs) partnered with industry to develop Canada's first construction planning program.
"To develop the Construction Planning Certificate of Achievement, SAIT worked closely with a national, industry-led organization — originally called the Construction Sector Council — that was created in 2001," said Williamson. "Now called BuildForce Canada, the organization's National Training Standard for Construction Planning (a 68-page guide) formed the basis for the program design and learning outcomes of SAIT's Construction Planning Certificate of Achievement."
Building on the experience and job/trade specific knowledge of construction workers, the new training program combines front-line capabilities with project management, construction planning and essential skill development. These skills include communication, numeracy, decision-making, critical thinking and computer technology, she added.
"SAIT is focused on meeting the construction workforce objectives of BuildForce Canada. We achieve this goal by developing Construction Planning courses that incorporate project-management skills and knowledge," said Williamson.
The objectives of the National Training Standard for Construction Planning initiative are to:
achieve a nationally recognized competency analysis for construction planning skills, applicable across all construction sectors and trades;
promote consistency in developing these skills in the Canadian construction industry; and
facilitate the mobility of individuals with construction planning skills across Canada to meet client needs.
Williamson explained at the core of the program is the understanding that a blend of skill and perspectives will enable construction workers to save money, increase quality and improve productivity on construction sites.
The program offers experienced workers the opportunity to transition into planning and management roles. Alternatively, learners may follow this training with field experience to become familiar with the real and practical challenges experienced by construction workers putting together a project.
Through a series of eight courses, those taking part will develop competence in:
- The 10 steps of construction planning
- Contract and risk management
- Project management
- Cost planning and control
- Communication, negotiation and business writing
- Scheduling/budgeting software
Upon successful completion of all courses, students will receive a SAIT Certificate of Achievement. Graduates of this certificate will have the capacity to organize resources and activities in a way that ensures a construction project operates as efficiently as possible, Williamson stated.
"It's about getting the right things to the right people at the right time," Williamson said. "These critical project management skills are required through all phases of a project: concept, design and execution. Designed primarily for the commercial and residential industry, this program offers workers with construction experience the opportunity to transition into more advanced roles."
Williamson said the school has heard from the industry that the program really fills the gaps in understanding they have seen with the field leader moving off of the tools and into a superintendent's type of role.
Courses will be offered from the School of Construction and School of Business beginning in January.
Williamson said the school has scheduled face-to-face evening/weekend courses for individuals with instructors who have worked in the construction industry. For organizations interested in providing construction planning training to their employees, the SAIT's Corporate Training Solutions department can customize a program to meet their specific needs. This can include blocks of courses, the entire certificate or individual courses on-demand.
Individuals are free to set their own schedules and work through the required courses to obtain their certificate. They have five years to complete the certificate.