New coordinators attend course geared to help them succeed

International Training Institute welcomes first class to teach essentials of job

FAIRFAX, Va. – The dean of a college is essentially the heart of a higher education program, and it’s no different at the 151 training centers for the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry across the United States and Puerto Rico. The training coordinators have the responsibility of the operation of the school, as well as the morale of the instructors and education of the students, on their shoulders.

Over the years, new coordinators attended multiple sessions to learn how to become training coordinators. This year, the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the industry, scheduled a concentrated class, which took place Sept. 25-27 in Las Vegas. Thirty-five coordinators with five or fewer years of experience on the job discussed scholarships, responsibilities, accreditation procedures and requirements, recruiting techniques and resources, ITI curriculum, program planning and TotalTrack, a proprietary comprehensive database system that puts all apprentice and training journeyperson information in one place.

Dan Rose, training coordinator at Local No. 88 in Las Vegas, said he wished the class had been around when he was a new coordinator 18 years ago.

“It’s a big step between being an instructor and becoming a coordinator. They’re totally different jobs,” he said. “The class the ITI is putting on gives them a specific path to follow.”

The class was created based on member suggestions and taught by training coordinators with decades in their positions, said James Shoulders, administrator for the ITI.

“I’ve been asking for this class since I took the job two years ago,” said Leah Rambo, training coordinator for Local No. 28’s training center in Queens, NY. “It’s an invaluable class.”

Greg Backus, training coordinator for Local No. 55, began his position three years ago.

“I’m continually learning,” he said. “I was taking care of business reactively instead of proactively. This helps that a great deal.”

Advice came in many forms, including during workshops and downtime when coordinators could get to know others from across the country in the same position. The facts are just as important as establishing relationships, said John Nesta, training coordinator for Local No. 33’s training center in Parma, Ohio.

“You guys are building up a network,” Nesta said during a workshop. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get to know each other. Be involved. Anything you can do to network with your peers is good. I’ve learned as much or more in the informal settings as I have in the formal classroom.”

Phil Newman, regional advisor for ITI training coordinators, saw the class as a step in the right direction.

“I think it was a real awakening for these coordinators, who come in and don’t fully understand the coordinator’s responsibilities,” he said. “I think they see it as valuable because they aren’t aware when they take the job the wide range of responsibilities.”

More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at training facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and Canada. Located in Fairfax, Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

For more information about ITI, visit www.sheetmetal-iti.org or call 703-739-7200.

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