ICBA program streamlines leadership training
The program offers a convenient way for organizations to begin training new leaders.
- Canada is facing a major shortage of construction leaders that is forecast to only get worse.
- The ICBA’s Construction Leadership Program was created to begin training workers that are on track for leadership roles.
- The program was designed to be flexible, allowing students to work at their own pace and take courses online or in person.
The Whole Story:
Skilled construction leaders don’t just walk onto the jobsite or the office. They are built by years of hard work, mentorship and experience.
But with many older workers retiring, Western Canada is facing an unprecedented deficit of these leaders.
To address this, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is offering construction companies a streamlined, a modern solution to train up the next generation: the ICBA Construction Leadership Certificate Program
“There’s a shortage of workers across our entire economy and it’s being acutely felt in construction,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president.
He noted that without immigration, B.C.’s population is shrinking. 2022 was the first year the death rate outpaced the birth rate. In construction, you have about 250,000 men and women working in B.C. and the work they do is roughly 10% of the province’s GDP. Across the whole country, the industry is seeing roughly 60,000 to 80,000 job vacancies. But that’s just part of the challenge. The existing construction workforce is aging; roughly 20% of construction professionals are 55 or older.
“Retirement age is 60 so in the next five years we could have 20% of the workforce retired,” said Gardner. “Combine that with the shortage of workers and you have a dual challenge that’s putting significant pressure on construction.”
In B.C. and Alberta alone it’s expected that around 100,000 construction professionals will retire within the next five years.
Gardner explained that the issue can be addressed in three main ways: immigration, technology and training.
While Canada’s population is growing through record numbers of immigrants, students, refugees and temporary foreign workers, only a fraction are entering the construction sector.
“When you look at it from an economic and labour force perspective, government is not doing a good job at matching skills gaps with the economy,” said Gardner.
On technology, Gardner believes that while construction could adopt it faster and become more efficient at how it builds, it unfairly gets a bad rap for being unsophisticated and slow.
“In reality, we are probably in the middle of the pack as we perform better than entertainment, education, food services and others who have not been as quick to adopt technology as we have,” he said. “Despite that, we can do a better job.”
The final piece is education. But even when workers want to improve their skills, it’s a struggle. Gardner noted that while it should take someone 4 years on average to get their Red Seal, in B.C., it often takes 8 to 10. Training spaces often have long wait lists, and many of the training providers are located in the Lower Mainland, making it challenging for those in other parts of the province.
After the issue was raised by ICBA members, the association worked with them to develop the ICBA Construction Leadership Certificate Program. The program offers specialized streams to train Project Estimators, Site Supervisors, and Project Managers so companies can get up-and-coming employees the skills they need for leadership roles.
The program is tailored for today’s busy construction professionals familiar with digital tools. Students can advance at their own pace and complete the programs online or in person. If time allows, they can be completed in as quickly as six months, or busy students can space things out over several years.
Participants start with 11 core courses relevant to all streams, and then complete the courses tailored specifically for their career path. The program uses Gold Seal and/or BC Housing-approved course offerings that the construction industry has endorsed.
“A lot of the content and focus was the result of dialogue with construction professionals. We asked them what they are experiencing in their business. And when they think about preparing the company for leadership transition, what skills younger workers will need to assume higher levels of responsibility and leadership,” said Gardner. “We then worked with program and curriculum specialists to make sure these people come out with the practical skills they need to succeed.”
To get started, participants just have to provide a letter of approval from their ICBA employer and begin the program any time. ICBA members get discounted rates. Courses are pay-as-you-go, scheduled several times a year and the ICBA accepts program applications year-round.
Creating well-rounded leaders
Gardner explained that the program is perfect for someone in their 20s or 30s who managers believe has leadership potential.
“When they get to their late 30s or 40s and the time comes for them to take on more responsibility, they not only have the practical experience, but they can have training that fills in the gaps,” said Gardner.
He explained that many workers are great with the technical aspects of construction, but the training program can give them other skills that are needed for managing teams, communicating effectively, addressing someone’s mental health struggles, and more.
“There’s a whole host of soft skills this training involves to help you lead a team, as we know to be an effective leader, you need to understand how to support that team. This is guided by technical expertise and is underpinned by some of those soft skills to ensure well-rounded, capable leadership.”
Learn more about the program and apply for your spot here.