The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) has begun an industry Workforce Development effort to recruit, train, and retain talented young people into the hardscape installation and construction business. Next week at the 2018 Hardscape North America trade show (an ICPI event) in Louisville, the Institute launches this program.
Last year brought the seventh consecutive growth year for concrete paver sales the United States and Canada, reaching a post-recession high of 750 million square feet, according to the 2018 ICPI Industry Sales Report. In addition, the 2018 ICPI Contractor Industry Report found installation sales by concrete paver contractors increased by 7.7% last year. Of note, ICPI-member contractors experienced 15% higher sales growth than non-members contractors.
Yet continued industry prosperity remains limited by a severe skilled workforce shortage. Four of every five contractors who participated in the 2018 ICPI Contractor Industry Report said recruiting and hiring qualified employees was their biggest challenge.
“The demand for traditional and new segmental concrete pavement products continues to increase,” said Kendall Anderegg, ICPI Chair. “In fact, both residential and commercial sales grew because many homeowners, businesses, and government officials realize that no other pavement system offers the durability, design flexibility, sustainability, long-term cost-effectiveness, safety and appearance like concrete pavers.”
“While ICPI continues emphasizing programs that will spark sales, we are also focused on the workforce challenge our industry faces,” said Anderegg. “We are creating a program to attract young people into the installation/contracting business and teach them the skills they need to succeed in installation and eventually manage a contracting business.”
At HNA 2018, ICPI will announce a strategic partnership with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) to develop a Hardscape Installer/Contractor Career Path that aligns with both associations’ current and new education offerings:
Step 1: Beginner
Attend a Boot Camp
Boot Camps, which are sponsored by Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute member companies, consist of one day of hands-on installation training and one day of classroom training. The goal is to provide beginning installers with the knowledge and skills they need to start a career in hardscape installation. Visit www.icpi.org/ educate for a constantly updated list of Boot Camps. The Boot Camp curriculum will be available this winter for ICPI members, affiliated ICPI Chapters, government agencies, municipalities, educational institutions, and ICPI-approved non-profit organizations to implement.
Step 2: Certified
ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installer
People can earn ICPI certification in two ways: (1) pass an in-person ICPI Concrete Paver Installer Course sponsored by an ICPI member or approved affiliate organization in his/her area, or (2) attend a post-secondary school that teaches ICPI-approved curriculum. In addition to the education courses, he/she will need to gain and document a total of 10,000 square feet of paver installation experience in at least five projects. Michigan State University has already implemented ICPI content into its existing curriculum. Students who pass the MSU course will be able to gain certification once they have completed the experience.
NCMA Certified SRW Installer
People can earn NCMA certification by passing an in-person NCMA Segmental Retaining Wall Installer course sponsored by an NCMA member or approved affiliate organization in their area. In addition to the education course, they will need to gain and document a total of 2,500 square feet of segmental retaining wall installation experience on at least five projects.
Step 3: Specialist
ICPI Specialist Designations
Once an individual has earned his/her ICPI Certification, he/she can become an ICPI Specialist in one or more of the following installation fields: residential, commercial, and/or permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP). To earn the Specialist Designation, he/she must attend and pass a specialist course, as well as gain 50,000 square feet of installation experience in the corresponding specialty area. Specialist classes will be offered in-person and online (starting February 1) on ICPI’s new Learning Management System.
NCMA Advanced Residential and Advanced Commercial SRW Installer
Once a person has obtained his/her NCMA Certification, he/she can become an Advanced
Installer in either residential or commercial applications. To earn an Advanced Certification, an individual must attend and pass an advanced course, as well as gain 10,000 square feet of installation experience on at least 10 projects in the corresponding specialty area. He/she can earn one or both of these NCMA Advanced Designations.
Step 4: Professional
Beginning in Fall 2019, individuals can take residential and/or commercial business courses. These courses will provide participants with the business knowledge they need to manage a hardscape contracting company. Topics will include managing employees, proven business practices, design and estimating, contract development, and marketing. To earn the Professional designation, participants must first become an ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installer and Specialist; or become an NCMA Certified SRW Installer and pass the NCMA Advanced Residential or Advanced Commercial courses.
In addition, ICPI will launch a promotional campaign to attract new installers and contractors into the industry. The campaign will include print, digital, and video outreach tools.
“There are excellent opportunities for young people in the segmental concrete pavement industry,” said Anderegg. “Contractor sales are increasing, and installer salaries have grown accordingly. Young people now can build careers that will last. They can be outside, experience the pride of building projects of real value, use cool tools, and ultimately establish a career path that can lead to owning a successful contracting business. At ICPI, we are very excited to build a strong workforce that will drive the industry forward for years to come.”