For any sector that isn't considered essential right now, work is hard to come by. The construction industry has been a mixed bag across states and localities, with some projects continuing and others on pause. While work may be scarce, many supervisors and business owners are looking for ways to keep their teams active and engaged. They're also trying to find methods to keep their employees working when everyone is supposed to be staying home and maintaining six feet of distance in public.
With that in mind, this pandemic is proving to be the perfect time to engage employees and crew members in online learning as a tool to further their careers. Here is a list of some online learning and training resources currently available for construction professionals during this unprecedented time.
OSHA Online Safety Courses
Workplace safety is of the utmost importance when employees are on the job, but when everyone is working from home, it's easy for those rules to slip their minds. That means it's the perfect time to take advantage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) online safety courses. OSHA provides courses on everything from electrical safety and cranes and rigging to confined space entry. If OSHA has a rule about it, they also have a course supporting those guidelines.
The courses range from $20 to $159 per person and take anywhere from one to eight hours to complete. Many are mobile-compatible, meaning even team members without computers can take advantage of these classes. If there are any areas where a particular worker is lacking in knowledge or experience, this can be a valuable investment. The effort counts both toward their future safety and the protection of the company and job.
Business and Financial Management
At its core, construction is just another type of business. Having a team that's skilled in both business and financial management can strengthen the entire company. Why not use this downtime to foster their education? The Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) offers various courses designed specifically with the construction industry in mind.
Courses are available for both CFMA members and non-members. The organization offers some free classes, while others vary from $140 to $375, depending on membership status. CFMA is also planning to host its annual conference virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. That event may provide another educational opportunity for construction companies looking to keep their employees engaged.
State, National, and International Building Codes
While some building codes may apply across the board, these things generally tend to be location-specific. Moving from one city to another could mean a totally new set of building codes to learn. Now is the perfect time for supervisors and business managers to help their teams become fluent in local and national building codes.
For those unsure of where to start, the International Code Council maintains a massive educational database that includes online courses for everything from building inspectors to code inspector certification tests. This program might not detail the exact building codes of the city or state where a company resides, but it is a great starting point. It can be an invaluable tool for any construction worker looking to expand their purview or advance their career.
Research Career-Starting Programs
While it might not seem like it right now, this pandemic will not last forever. Eventually, things will start to go back to normal, and the construction industry will grow and thrive again. Hosting or attending in-person programs isn't an option at the moment, but it will be once the pandemic begins winding down. Why not start preparing for them now?
Some company-sponsored degree programs, such as the Caterpillar Dealer Academy, require two years of classwork and hands-on learning and in return grant an entry point into a career with the organization. Others, like the Turner BRIDGE program, structure training as an internship for students already enrolled in university. Either way, those interested in pursuing a two- or four-year degree can research ways to get their education sponsored by their future employers.
Online learning is no replacement for hands-on education in the skilled trades. However, it can lay the foundation for in-person lessons later in the year once it's safe to gather in groups again. Prepare for the future by researching education options now and discovering what is required to apply.
Prepare for the Future
It's the perfect opportunity for supervisors and business owners to offer continuing education options to their team members that they might not have the time for during busy summer months. It’s also a good time for those interested in the construction industry to research their options and learn more about pursuing a rewarding career.
Online education is the perfect tool to help construction companies prepare for the future — whatever that future might bring.