The Finishing Trades Institute of the Ohio Region (FTIOR), the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6 training department, achieved accreditation from the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
Recognized as a badge of excellence for occupational education institutions, COE accreditation is a huge deal in the union construction training industry.
Educational programs or institutes, including registered apprenticeship programs, who have been found to meet or exceed stated criteria of academic quality and student achievement are granted accreditation.
Upon its accreditation, the FTIOR became the sixth IUPAT District Council training program from the International Association of Painters and Allied Trades to receive the recognition and the 20th building trades registered apprenticeship program to become accredited.
In June, FTIOR Director of Training George Boots received an email that the organization received accreditation.
“I was stunned,” said Boots recalling his thoughts when he read the email. “It was roughly a five-year process from the time I spoke to the trustees to the approval.”
The process was long but well worth the effort, he added. Everyone involved with FTIOR, including staff, trustees and District Council 6 Business Agents, was required to complete a self-assessment.
“There was no template or boilerplate we could use,” Boots said. “We all had to think. It led to everyone having a better understanding of what we needed to achieve.”
Building a cohesive approach proved to be the biggest challenge, he said. Processes and systems existed, but coordinating all the parts for each of the four crafts (painter, glazier, drywall and industrial painter) was tricky. Ultimately, each team had to understand that the changes were designed to strengthen the organization.
“It was a lengthy lifestyle change,” he said. “It was hard getting everyone to report in the same way. We were doing things, but just not in the same way.”
New terminology was one of the major changes, as those working in the organization had to adjust their phrasing. For example, the institute is no longer called a “training center” but a “service center.”
While other training departments hired consultants to help them through the application process, the FTIOR did not hire outside help, which saved the organization between $20,000 and $40,000, Boots estimated.
“I reached out to the service centers in Washington D.C. to pick their brains,” he said. “We had help from other Councils and institutions as well.”
The accreditation is the most significant thing to happen to the organization in years and puts the FTIOR in a significantly better position. For example, the organization can now apply for and obtain grants through the Department of Labor and the Department of Education. The staff will explore additional funds for outreach to diversify membership and create new journeyman upgrade classes.