In Québec, construction workers have an opportunity to choose from among a wide variety of free-of-charge training courses so they can upgrade their skills in their respective trades.
Every August, the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), in partnership with the industry’s employer and union associations, launches the Répertoire des activités de perfectionnement for the Fiers et compétents program with a promotional campaign. The Répertoire lists more than 500 relevant courses that meet needs related to practising the industry’s different trades and occupations.
Training: It’s a Priority
The construction industry has been built and consolidated thanks, among other things, to the trust and exchange involved in the mentoring relationship, and it acknowledges that the high quality of work is due in large part to the training culture that has prevailed since the CCQ was founded, in 1987. The CCQ, which administers the apprenticeship and training plan, has joined with partners in the industry to develop an offer adapted to the realities of the construction sector, encouraging the development of a skilled young generation, helping apprentices progress, and satisfying the need for workers. Major efforts have also been devoted to upgrading training for workers, such as setting up the Training Fund for Employees in the Construction Industry in 1992 and, over the last ten years, the Fiers et compétents program, which is aimed at encouraging employees to engage in continuing education.
Is Training Just for Apprentices?
Working in a sector that is constantly evolving in terms of technologies, complexity of tasks, and regulatory standards, construction workers must inevitably continue to learn in order to maintain or improve their skills and thus ensure that they are employable. Registering for the upgrading activities offered through the Répertoire remains the simplest way to reach this goal, whether through the training obligation or voluntarily.
Called upon to transmit their knowledge to the apprentices whom they mentor, journeypersons have every reason to stay abreast of the latest advances and work techniques in their trade. By taking training, not only do journeypersons enhance their own skills so that they increase their mastery of their trade but, as mentors, they are better equipped to support their apprentices. By staying ahead of the game, journeypersons also become more multiskilled on construction sites.
On the job site, journeypersons who upgrade their skills act as a conduit, enabling their apprentices to benefit from their in-depth knowledge. Within the industry as a whole, journeypersons, as multiplier agents for the concepts they have learned, help to foster the training culture by providing an example. That is, they can encourage their apprentices, whether or not they are graduates, to upgrade their skills too.
For their part, apprentices who take an upgrading activity can, in their turn, share what they have learned with their journeyperson. Also, by taking an upgrading activity, they benefit from a worthwhile training credit: hours may be added to their apprenticeship record book once they have passed the activity.
Furthermore, there’s no doubt that employers find it beneficial to have journeypersons and apprentices with upgraded training, as employees who know about new techniques and working standards are inevitably better performers and more motivated, ensuring efficiency and safety on job sites and keeping the quality of work high. And, thanks to the contributions that they pay into the Training Fund for Employees in the Construction Industry, eligible contractors can take advantage of the CCQ’s On-the-Job Training Service, whose consultants develop and organize made-to-measure training courses that meet the specific needs of their workforce.
In addition to being free of charge, because they are funded by the Training Fund for Employees in the Construction Industry, the upgrading activities presented in the Répertoire are accessible; most of them are practice-focused and take place in a friendly environment. Some of them are offered in a “mixed learning” version, in which the theoretical part is dispensed online and the practical part at a vocational training centre.
Because lack of time and work schedules may interfere with participating in an upgrading activity, the courses are offered with a wide range of durations (some as short as 4 or 8 hours) and at different time slots, full time day or evening, part time, or weekends, in order to accommodate work, studies, and free time.
Upgrading promotion agents at the employer and union associations are also available to provide orientation and help with deciding which training course(s) is relevant.
Although participation within the region of residence is encouraged, financial support from the Training Fund for Employees in the Construction Industry covering travel and lodging costs related to the training may be obtained. In addition, for each full-time training course of more than 25 hours a week, the Training Fund for Employees in the Construction Industry deposits enhanced hours weekly into employee’s private insurance plan (MÉDIC Construction), and it is possible to receive an Emploi-Québec allowance or to maintain Employment Insurance benefits.
The Best of You
Journeypersons and apprentices who take upgrading training develop their expertise, gain new skills and knowledge, and stand out on the job site for their openness to learning, making themselves more attractive to employers as standout recruits. Employers that encourage their employees to upgrade their skills and employees who seek to develop the best of themselves are actively participating in healthy growth of the industry. In turn, the industry draws positive results from the continuous and voluntary training of its members, as upgrading and transmission of good practices definitely enhance the quality of the work accomplished.
By its very nature, mentoring thus makes a positive contribution to perpetuating the culture of training that is so indispensable to the industry.