Labor-Management partnerships are not necessarily new and innovative. However, utilizing those partnerships to advance an industry through educational offerings for disciplines outside of those direct stakeholder groups is. That is what takes place at the Boot Camp programs developed and promoted through the labor-management industry fund, the Architectural Glass Institute (AGI).
AGI was created to provide a forum for sharing the collective expertise of their affiliated glazier employers of the Philadelphia tri-state region and the Finishing Trades Institute (FTI). Its inaugural program, Architectural Glass Boot Camp, took place in the fall of 2012 and served as an interactive instructional program developed to provide the design community the opportunity to experience first-hand the installation of various glazing systems. Boot Camp reinforces the importance of collaboration and communication by providing a forum for the exchange of information between designer and craft worker.
Boot Camp is held at the Finishing Trades Institute, the only stand-alone building trades training program to receive full accreditation from the Department of Education opening the way for graduates to receive college degrees and ultimately raising apprenticeship training to a new level. As a post-secondary educational institution, FTI has changed their approach to training. This approach has been recognized by the United States Department of Labor by awarding FTI their Innovators & Trailblazers Award and by the Construction Users Round Table as one of their Workforce Development Award winners. While these accolades are impressive, the opportunity to expose the user community first hand through programs like Boot Camp is invaluable.
Most recently, AGI hosted the Finishing Boot Camp program as part of the International Interior Design Association PA|NJ|DE chapter’s fall retreat and was a testimony of labor-management cooperation across multiple trades. Guided by FTI instructional staff, approximately 50 interior design students and practitioners engaged in hands-on workshops specific to glazing systems, drywall finishing and decorative painting. The program was sponsored by AGI with individual craft activities sponsored by the affiliated employer association – Architectural Glass and Metal Association (AGMA), Interior Finish Contractors Association (IFCA) and Associated Master Painters and Decorators (AMPD).
The benefits of the Boot Camp program are two-fold. The Professional Development aspects of the program fulfill a need within the design community for architects and designers to satisfy continuing education requirements. In many instances it is the first time participants have an opportunity to see how the products and systems they detail on paper actually are constructed. Even beyond individual products, the workshop discussion frequently hits on important aspects of field construction such as the integration of various components of the building envelope. There are common issues that come up in the field regarding the differing trades, but most common is the fact that any given installation challenge is unique to that specific project and the success of the solution is directly tied to the expertise of the contractor and workers in the field. While this discussion is beneficial towards the resolution of installation issues, it leads directly to the overall goal of educating the design and construction community on the value of utilizing qualified contractors who employ FTI trained workforce.
For more information on AGI and the Boot Camp programs, visit www.theagi.org.