Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


The iTi expands architectural training to supply growing market

ITIThe architectural sector is changing—from single-skin buildings and one-dimensional materials to high-end, high-performance architectural cladding systems—with energy efficiency at the forefront of these changes.

The International Training Institute (iTi) is offering some exciting new architectural programs to meet these growing needs. The iTi, based in Fairfax, Va., is developing dynamic new architectural training modules that encompass targeted strike force training, product-specific training, and partnering with manufacturers across the country.

The iTi is breaking the architectural sector’s broader areas down into manageable issues including understanding contractors’ training needs and building relationships with manufacturers of the building enclosure products that are popular today.

“We’ve got a lot of good things going on right now,” said Dan McCallum, the iTi ‘s architectural specialist. “I love it. It’s something that’s been my passion for 30-plus years. I really embrace the challenge we have collectively, the union and contractors. I have a sense of what we all need.”

Architectural sector becoming more broad

The iTi recently evaluated training needs and identified 11 different sectors in the architectural industry, which were validated by contractors. They have developed training modules based on these sectors and on specific products, with the materials provided by the manufacturers. The iTi is developing these modules to provide the needed training at JATCs and training centers across the country.

Jointly sponsored by SMACNA and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation International Association (SMART), the iTi is the educational branch of the unionized sheet metal industry. The iTi supports apprenticeship and advanced career training at 153 state-of-the-art training centers for union sheet metal workers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

It’s not just a simple wall anymore

“We are looking at it through the structure,” Mr. McCallum said, “and what is attached to the face of the structure—sheeting, waterproofing, underlayment. And we’re looking at whatever exterior cladding system is on the structure—single-skin panels, composite panels, metal composite materials (MCM), and insulated wall panel systems.”

“Thirty years ago, it used to be a single-skin building,” he added. “The industry has changed. Now there are high-end, high-performance architectural cladding systems on roofs and walls. In addition to the walls, the roofing systems include roofing, metal composite insulation, roofing underlayment, and metal roofing systems. We are also looking at integrated wall systems, window systems, and louver systems. And on the roofs, there are skylights, snow guards, and fall protection. It’s not just the metal skin, it’s the whole system from the building skin out.”

Partnering with manufacturers for product-specific training

“Dan’s been able to put us in the room with manufacturers around the country and understands what their needs are,” said James Page, administrator of the International Training Institute.

The iTi recently launched a training mockup specifically for metal composite materials, which they provided to the JATCs and training centers so the facilities could train on this specific product. They developed a partnership with the manufacturer of the material used to fabricate the panels. The manufacturer will provide the iTi’s training centers with the panel materials at no charge to fabricate their training mockups.

Targeted strike force meets contractors’ needs

The iTi’s targeted strike force training will be available to centers based on the local needs of contractors working on specific related projects. It includes partnering with manufacturers to help with education and materials. The initial training will address building enclosures, including metal composite materials (MCM), and building metal roofing.

The iTi is focused on getting people on the ground trained. “We are being proactive and getting those training pieces done as quickly as we can, so if a contractor has a project coming up, they will feel confident that we will support them,” said Mr. McCallum.

“The workers are trained before the project actually breaks. They are ahead out there, ready to build the specific project,” noted Mr. Page.

“Our primary goal is to get our members trained and show the leaders who manufacture these products that sheet metal workers are once again the leaders in the industry,” he added. “And contractors can tout that they have trained workers who have been trained specifically for that product.”

Architectural sector is growing—and opportunities for contractors

Across the country, there is a projected 35 to 40 percent increase in the architectural sheet metal industry over the next three to five years, Mr. McCallum said. This is because buildings are becoming more high-performance buildings and architects are recognizing the flexibility of architectural sheet metal in these structures today.

“When you look at the opportunities that are available at the national level,” said Mr. Page, “including infrastructure replacement, bridge-building, roads, and all the different materials that have to be used, architectural metal system installation is intertwined with that. There are tremendous opportunities for contractors.”

The three labor/management industry funds (iTi, SMOHIT, and NEMI) are also focusing on re-branding to show the diversification available from the sheet metal and HVAC industry in all market sectors.

“The iTi is going to develop these programs and get the message out to the JATCs. We are training our members so they have qualified individuals to go after this work and to make money on it,” said Mr. McCallum.