Masonry Industry Training
This is a great time to be a masonry apprentice. Over the next 10 years, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be 23,000 newly created jobs in the masonry industry, and more than 15 percent of current journey masons' jobs will need to be refilled. As our nation's population increases, demands on our contractors for new homes, schools and industrial facilities, coupled with restoration work on older buildings, will make any well-trained and dedicated mason a valuable commodity.
This environment will also welcome more minorities into the ranks of masonry employees, as women, Asians and Hispanics are entering the industry workforce in greater numbers. The face of masons will be changing over the next 10 years, with a younger and more diverse work site.
In light of the escalating demand for qualified masons, training has become increasingly important. For years, the industry has discussed how many of our veterans, those with the skills and knowledge gained from decades on the job, are retiring. By 2012, the number of workers age 55 and older will increase almost 50 percent, making them 20 percent of the total workforce population. Students must acquire the experience of working side-by-side with our industry's most valuable asset before they leave the workforce.
Training and Workforce Development are crucial issues addressed by the Mason Contractors Association of America's (MCAA) Strategic Long-range Plan. To realize the Association's envisioned future to make masonry the building system of choice one of our five key goals is providing the industry with an ample workforce. The MCAA's efforts and initiatives toward this goal are focused on encouraging students to pursue a career in masonry, and promoting the training programs and apprenticeship opportunities offered throughout the country.
On the following pages, you will read about 16 masonry programs that the MCAA works with, through partnerships with organizations such as the National Masonry Instructors Association (NMIA), SkillsUSA, the Masonry Skills Challenge, career days and others. The classes at these schools range from small to large, newly created to long established, public and private. The common bonds between all of these programs are the instructors' dedication to improving our industry, and the students' desires to be a part of our enduring skilled trade. Educators at these training programs are employing innovative techniques in teaching masonry, and they are developing masons who graduate with the tools to advance the masonry industry far into the future.
Workforce development is a topic that comes and goes from our industry's radar. When work is up, we scramble for employees. When work is slowed, we leave it on the backburner. Training the future masons for our businesses must become an ongoing focus if we are going to compete with other building systems and keep up with the economic predictions for the next decade. The MCAA's efforts need the full support of our industry's contractors, suppliers and partners to ensure that programs like the ones that follow remain and thrive.
The J.F. Ingram State Technical College's masonry program has been in existence for 30 years. The student population currently ranges in age from 18 to 54. This program was set up to give incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn a skilled trade that will upgrade the students' quality of life once they are released into society.
For more information, visit www.ingram.cc.al.us.
With additional locations in Dothan and Fort Rucker, the Wallace Community College (WCC) has maintained an excellent masonry program since the 1960s. Instructor C.W. Bynum has more than 30 years' experience in the industry, the last 20 of which have been in education and contracting. WCC students participate in SkillsUSA competitions and consistently place in the top five in state competition and the top 10 at the national level. WCC took top place in nationals in 1997.
The WCC masonry department also participates in community service projects, including Habitat for Humanity where students recently dug the foundation, poured the slab and driveway, and built a landscaping retainer wall. In addition, students regularly build projects for local churches and schools.
The program's job placement rate is 94 percent. WCC is an open enrollment institution; no high school diploma is required, and financial aid is available. Instruction is also offered on location to inmates at Easterling Correctional Facility as part of the state mandate to offer career/technical education for non-violent offenders in need of job training.
For more information, visit www.wallace.edu.
At 35,000 square feet, the District Council Training Center (DCTC) facility is the largest local training center of its kind. Created by Chicago's International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) locals and union mason contractors, DCTC is a centralized facility for those desiring advanced training in the skills of bricklaying and the allied crafts.
"The rewards of union apprenticeship training are the good wages and benefits you receive as a skilled craft worker," said Bob Arnold, program director.
The DCTC trains bricklayers in Chicago and the surrounding nine-county area. The center has two full-time International Masonry Institute (IMI) certified instructors. Along with providing IMI-sponsored, 12-week pre-apprentice classes, the DCTC has related training for the three-year apprentices, including online interactive coursework that can be done from home.
"The DCTC and IMI have given me an opportunity to do what I love doing working with my hands and earning a living to provide for my family," said Jamaican-born Robert Grant of BAC local 56.
For more information, visit www.bac2school.org.
This masonry program has been in existence since the school opened in 1975. Instructor Jimmy Lee Porter is in his third year with the program. The two-year curriculum includes basic bricklaying, blocklaying, composite walls and more. In addition to the masonry training, the students are taught skills in employability, leadership, mathematics, blueprint reading and others, preparing them to successfully enter the workforce.
Field trips to construction fairs, concrete plants, masonry suppliers and job sites are an exciting feature of the program. Occasionally, guest speakers from various construction trades visit to share their vast knowledge. Students are involved in several community projects, providing them with hands-on experiences. There is also a cooperative education program, where eligible students are paid while working toward their apprenticeship. The support of masonry retailers and the community have made this masonry program a great success.
For more information, visit http://kytech.ky.gov.
Started in 1995, the masonry program in the college's Department of Construction Technology offers a one-year masonry certificate course and a two-year associate's degree in construction technology with a masonry concentration.
Throughout the school year, students work on hands-on projects, including brick steps, barbecues, entrance piers, fireplaces and full-size chimneys. Field trips to brickyards and block plants are included so students can see firsthand how the materials they use are produced. In addition to masonry training, related courses are offered to provide the students with leadership skills, as well as other skills that will help them in the future.
Post-graduation placement has been more than 95 percent, and the demand for good masons is growing every day.
For more information, visit www.smccme.edu.
The Lewis and Clark Career Center accepts juniors and seniors from every high school in St. Charles County. The masonry program consists of students who attend their home high school for academics for half of the day and the Career Center for technical training for the other half. The program familiarizes students with several aspects of the trade, from the concept of masonry to hands-on projects. As the students' skill levels improve, their projects become more complex.
Each May, the graduating students demonstrate their skills at the mason contractors' hall. Many of the seniors are offered apprenticeships as a result of this event. This is a "win-win" situation for all involved: these young people have an opportunity at a career job, and the contractors gain apprentices that have a tremendous advantage the technical training they received at Lewis and Clark.
For more information, visit www.stcharles.k12.mo.us/lewis&clark.
It's 8:30 a.m. Tools, saws and mud boards are all being loaded into the dumper. They're being hauled to the job site to lay block on the foundation for house #47. Next month, the crew will start the fireplace and brick veneer on house #46. In between these residential jobs, there is concrete to pour, CMU dugouts to build, and paving brick to lay.
This is not a mason contractor's crew; this is the senior class of the masonry program. The two-year college supplies an associate's degree to graduates who learn through building cavity and composite walls, laying brick veneer on relief angles, setting architectural precast and limestone, and creating small brick and block foundations on changing grade. Classroom work includes reading and planning from blueprints, estimating, job supervision and testing, and specifying concrete, mortar and grout. Students don't just talk about it they do it!
Just above the campus, nestled in the beautiful green hills that surround the school, students from the entire building trade's program of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and masonry students combine their learned skills to fill a subdivision with stylish homes that are sold on the real estate market. These projects are their way of contributing to the surrounding community they live in.
For more information, visit www.alfredstate.edu.
Every year, the Penta Career Center's construction trades programs build two houses, and the masonry students install the basement floors, garage floors, sidewalks, driveways and patios, and complete all of the brickwork. In addition to these projects, students complete dugouts, ticket booths, concession stands and more for area school districts. Also, students helped complete the masonry work for three Habitat for Humanity projects during the past school year.
In 2004, the students dismantled a local historic post office so it could be restored and moved. The students dismantled irreplaceable rock-faced masonry block, worked with old high-lime content mortar, and observed the process of numbering the materials for reassembly.
David Ziemke, supervisor of industrial and engineering systems, said students "benefit from working in a real-world work environment, learn to cultivate relationships with area contractors, and strengthen ties within the community."
For more information, visit www.pentacareercenter.org.
The masonry program at Maplewood Career Center has been in existence since 1997. During this time, students have participated in numerous competitions, including SkillsUSA where the program earned gold and bronze medals in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
At the end of their two-year program, students have a strong knowledge of "stick-work" using the level to ensure proper corner construction. In addition to the projects in the lab, students gain exposure to an actual job site by participating in the construction of a house that is later auctioned off to the highest bidder.
During the summer, students work with contractors to gain additional experience, and many times they secure employment with this contractor upon graduation. Students say the program has taught them to "learn with pride and work with great mechanics." This reflects instructor Richard Nagy's teaching philosophy, which emphasizes students fostering dedication in their work, while at the same time ensuring that they acquire the necessary skills to excel in the field.
For more information, visit www.maplenet.sparcc.org.
The masonry program at the Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC) is growing to meet the needs of the demanding construction trades industry. The current population is a significant increase over the last 10 years' average.
Many aspects of this program are unique, including introductory career programming, affiliation with the National Home Builders Association and an entrepreneurial business component. The latter component allows students to experience the reality of business through an entrepreneur venture in which the students build materials and then learn to cost out each piece, relating the time it takes to create it, the manpower and employee costs, the purchasing of supplies, and marketing media.
Success in the program, according to instructor John Koenigsberg, is gained when students work hard each day to the fullest of their ability, pay attention to detail in all aspects of the construction project, and gain personal pride in creating a high-quality finished products.
For more information, visit www.indtech.org.
The Career Technology Center (CTC) trowel trades program provides students with the fundamental skills needed to work with block, brick and stone. This course is designed to give students the proper procedures, methods and learning experiences for cutting, chipping and setting in position of block, brick, stone and glass block using bonding materials and hand tools. Students learn block and bricklaying, mortar mixing, steps and brick veneer layout, fireplace layout, scaffold safety, basic concepts in retaining wall systems, layout and review of different types of patterns and shapes for brick paving, estimating projects, and the proper use of all masonry tools.
CTC students also work on projects in service crews and learn the value of working as a team.
For more information, visit www.ctc.tec.pa.us.
Williamson is in its 114th year of preparing deserving young men to be useful and respected members of society. The masonry program uses a three-year, apprenticeship-based curriculum. As part of their daily regimen, students spend four hours in academic instruction and four hours in shop.
Currently, students are laying rock face block for a new indoor little league practice facility, building an addition to the school, and completing concrete flatwork. During summers, students are required to work for mason contractors; during the spring of their senior year, students participate in an internship program.
Participation in SkillsUSA has become an integral part of the training at Williamson. In the past six years, Williamson has twice won the national masonry competition at the post-secondary level, along with one second-place and one third-place winner.
Over the past seven years, instructor Dan Hiltebeitel has graduated 65 mason apprentices; 41 are currently working as apprentice masons and 21 are working in entry-level construction management positions.
For more information, visit www.williamson.edu.
The bricklaying program at the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College (OWATC) was established in 1973, and has been serving the needs of the local industry by preparing entry-level residential and light commercial bricklayers.
Since its creation, the program has developed significant partnerships with local employers, organizations, and city, county and state governments. Thousands of hours have been donated in the installation of numerous masonry projects, including the brick horse sculptures at the Weber County fairgrounds, exterior brickwork on Ogden City Redevelopment Agency homes, restoration of the historical limekiln in Ogden Canyon, rockwork for Festival of the Trees playhouse, and installation of the Youth Corrections Division regional office sign.
Students from the bricklaying program have distinguished themselves by participating in SkillsUSA competitions. In the past five years, four OWATC students have earned state champion honors in bricklaying and have represented the state at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo.
For more information, visit www.owatc.com.
The masonry program at Mercer County Technical Education Center (MCTEC) was established in 1970, and instructor Carl Pruett has been on staff since 1985.
This year's masonry class is working on structures at the center and at feeder high schools. Some of these projects are being built completely by MCTEC students.
The class's next project is a 40' x 50' addition to a football field house. The students began by estimating and preparing purchase orders for the masonry materials to match the existing building. The students poured the footer last spring and started the block work in the fall.
Pruett said, "Allowing students to construct live projects is a slow process, but it saves the county money and gives the students a great deal of fulfillment knowing they participated in building a structure that will last for years."
For more information, visit http://mctec.merc.tec.wv.us.
This masonry program has been in existence since 1993. Instructor Todd Larson developed the curriculum under contract with the Brick Distributors of Wisconsin the same curriculum is now being used in two other technical colleges in Wisconsin. The program is a one-year, post-secondary program where students earn a technical diploma.
The program's goal is to give students the skills needed to succeed as entry-level masons. This is accomplished through a 32-week program, incorporating lab time and instructor-led internships where the students build community projects.
Some of the past projects consist of basements for Habitat for Humanity homes, park pavilions and new signs at the school. In the past three years, the students have brick-veneered a spec home in partnership with the wood techniques program and an area lumberyard. Students also take courses in communications, math, blueprint reading, estimating and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety.
For more information, visit www.witc.edu.
Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) has offered masonry education and training for more than 50 years. Courses range from basic bricklaying to advanced blueprint reading and estimating. Training can be customized for contractors, and the school also offers training to individuals with no masonry experience. Course content and instruction are continuously updated to reflect the latest trends in the industry.
Each spring semester, MATC offers a 16-credit program designed to prepare individuals for employment in the masonry industry. The program's focus is hands-on trowel training. Throughout the training, the instructors stress high quality workmanship and industry standards. Training is supplemented with courses in construction safety, scaffold user certification, math, basic blueprints, and job-related work habits and attitudes. Community projects cap off the students' training.
Graduates possess the skills and knowledge to successfully enter into the masonry profession. Many MATC graduates are now journey-level masons, forepersons and superintendents, and some have become contractors.
For more information, visit www.matc.edu.
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