By Amy King, Communications Manager for NCCER Over the next few weeks, Breaking Ground will feature blogs about NCCER's early beginnings as we celebrate 20 years of service to the construction industry. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we do! Twenty years ago, workforce development in the construction industry looked drastically different. At the time, many contractors and industry associations had established their own proprietary training programs, which led to substantial amounts of time, money and effort being devoted to the development of numerous company craft training programs. As a result, training was being delivered in too many diverse ways, and confidence in these programs was lacking. There was no portability of skills for craft professionals and no verification of an individual’s training beyond the walls of the company they worked for. This situation negatively impacted the careers and mobility of workers, damaged the industry’s image and cost enormous sums of money. To meet the industry’s needs at the time, focus shifted to developing standardized, industry-led, competency-based training with portable credentials. This is what led to the formation of the National Center for Construction Education and Research, now known as NCCER. LAYING THE FOUNDATION At 1:55 p.m. on May 19, 1995, the future of the U.S. construction industry changed considerably. At that moment in Aspen, Colorado, more than 125 of the nation’s construction industry leaders approved the establishment of NCCER. NCCER was the first industry-wide organization with the resources and commitment to radically change how the industry would train its workers and improve the image of construction as a career choice. During the two-day meeting, competing organizations forged partnerships to embrace the common goal of providing standardized curricula for the construction industry. At the time, construction was a very fragmented industry, so the decision to work together to develop standardized curricula was monumental. Representatives addressed how NCCER would offer resources for organizations to provide quality training for craft professionals, safety training materials, management training for career advancement and tools to improve the image of the construction industry. “The Aspen Summit, as it became known, was significant for a number of reasons, primarily because it included a large group of people representing associations and contractors of all sizes,” said Ron Fedrick, NCCER’s first chairman of the board and CEO of Nova Group, Inc. “Despite these differences, we were able to formulate a plan to go forward and continue the momentum. The Aspen Summit laid the foundation and set NCCER in motion for what it does today.” Joe Ivey, who was NCCER’s second chairman of the board and CEO of Ivey Mechanical Company, felt that there were two driving reasons to establish NCCER: The industry needed a continuous supply of trained craft professionals and training needed to be consistent. “Training was so fragmented at the time, so it was in the best interest of the industry for everyone to come together,” said Ivey. “This was driven by the market’s need for trained craft professionals.” Zachry, another NCCER founding contractor, saw the need for a comprehensive and cohesive craft training program that was also portable and allowed for revisions to keep up with industry standards and incorporate technological advances. “It was about strength in numbers because we didn’t have to develop and revise our own curricula,” said Steve Hoech, retired senior vice president of employee relations at Zachry. “We fought to have industry-recognized credentials and portable training, and it turned out to be more important than I thought it would be. NCCER instilled a sense of professionalism in the craft ranks.” Cover1605For the rest of the story, read the full article in NCCER’s Cornerstone magazine.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.