Apprenticeship Program: Evolving with Industry Demands

By: Bryan T. Benke, MBA
FLJAP Coordinator

Changing with the Times

With an everchanging industry, construction workers face the challenge of staying certified and knowledgeable of changes both within the industry as well as with customers. The St. Louis Floorlayers Joint Apprenticeship Program has begun preparing our workforce for these obstacles. Realizing that many customers in and around the St. Louis region are requiring certifications such as ICRA and specialized trade certifications like INSTALL, the St. Louis Floorlayers Joint Apprenticeship Program decided to take steps to ensure that apprentices are well prepared for this immediately after graduating the program.

We have implemented a weeklong combination class that will allow apprentices to earn ICRA 24 certification as well as INSTALL Substrate Preparation certification. The class will be the full ICRA curriculum focused on the Floorlayer apprentices. We have also added environmental and situational scenarios that allow the Floorlayer to enter, work in, and leave the contaminated work area. Since most structures for containment will already be built before Floorlayers get there, we focus on teaching the apprentice appropriate inspection methods of the isolation structures such as identifying proper installation of structures, inspection of structures for breeches like cuts or defects to the system, and what to do in the event of a breech. The apprentice also learns the proper methods of mixing powder-based leveling compounds using industry recognized dust containment methods to reduce exposure to hazards, as well as properly transporting material in and out of the work area.

Certified Pros

Having this certification is becoming increasingly important every day, especially in the healthcare industry. With the complexity of healthcare institutions being regulated and having buildings that encompass many different areas including patient rooms, cafeterias, laboratories, etc., many of these institutions are renovating and remodeling frequently but must continue to operate.  Doctors, nurses, other hospital staff and construction workers themselves are often near active construction sites where the risk for contamination is present. This is the reason why construction personnel must be certified to identify and mitigate the risk of contaminants. Once the ICRA 24 course is complete, we move directly into the INSTALL Substrate Preparation class to finish out the week.

The INSTALL classes are becoming increasingly popular and prevalent in our industry. These certifications, like ICRA, are starting to be required on job sites. Gaining these certifications during the apprenticeship program prepares our future journeyman to handle many work environments and provides our contractors with journeyman that have advanced skill certifications. Currently, our program allows an apprentice the opportunity to graduate our program with not only a Journeyman Certificate but also an ICRA 24 Certification, INSTALL Substrate Preparation certification, INSTALL Carpet certification and an INSTALL Resilient certification. 

Providing these advance training certifications to our apprentices help us produce a more educated and capable worker for our signatory contractors, while making them more valuable as well. Advanced training will produce a journeyman that has increased productivity, higher retention, higher quality, which in turn leads to organizational skills, lower operational costs, and most importantly, advanced safety knowledge and skills. All of this would not be possible without the expertise of our instructors and the continued support of our signatory contractors who constantly supply us with materials.

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