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Construction site managers in demand, college adds program to train them

Sault College will also offer hybrid of in-class, remote learning using HyFlex model
grocery store construction
(File photo)

It takes one set of skills to work on a construction project.

It takes an extra set of skills to manage one.

Recognizing that need, the Sault College board of governors, at its monthly meeting held virtually April 22, approved a one-year, two-semester Construction Project Management graduate certificate program to start up in September.

“We have very strong trades, skills and organizations in Sault Ste. Marie, and personnel, but many of them don’t have the business and project management skills necessary to lead these types of projects,” said David Orazietti, dean of aviation, trades and technology, natural environment and business, in addressing the board.

“Often, individuals need to be brought in from outside the community for these particular positions, so this is a great opportunity for the college to fulfill a local demand in an area where we certainly need to provide training in.”

The program will be offered remotely at first due to the COVID-19 pandemic and available to students locally and across Canada, but also with a big focus on international students.

It is hoped by the college that students will be able to study on campus as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 

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To gain admission to the program, a student must have an Ontario community college diploma or degree or equivalent, with a diploma or degree in an engineering-related field described as “an asset.”

Sault College is projecting a ‘most likely’ scenario of seeing 30 international and four domestic students enrolled in the program in September, 2021, hoping to increase to 40 internationals and 14 domestics by September, 2025.

The need is there for such graduates, according to data in a written report to the board.

Last year there were 44 job postings for construction project managers in Algoma.

Pay for construction managers in Algoma is $7,000 a year higher than the national average. 

Construction managers are among the top five posted occupations in the Algoma region in 2020.

“This need (for the program) was identified by our advisory committees, and they have been very actively pursuing this particular program for some time now, so I have to say that the industry partners who sit on the advisory committee have been very supportive of seeing this program at Sault College because it offers training opportunities for many of their employees in their organizations to give those skills to their tradespeople,” Orazietti said.

The program includes courses in human resource management, estimating and accounting, environmental law as it pertains to construction and understanding more about construction contracts.

The Sault College board was also given a presentation outlining how the institution will offer Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex) instruction to accommodate students needs in the future.  

“In the fall we’re anticipating students will be returning to campus, but as we all know the pandemic’s unpredictable, so we are providing our students with flexible learning options, we want to provide our students with some choice. We want to be able to accommodate their personal needs while at the same time following the public health and Ministry guidelines as it relates to safety within the context of the virus,” said Colin Kirkwood, Sault College vice-presiden,t academic and research.

The presentation showed a professor, using information technology such as cameras, microphones and a control panel, teaching a class from within the college’s lecture theatre, some students learning from the professor in person, others tuning in remotely through web conferencing.

“This (a hybrid model) is how we plan to deliver many of our courses in the fall. But to be clear, we’re not making all courses available in HyFlex format. We’re in the process of planning exactly which courses will be delivered this way, but it will not be all courses,” Kirkwood told the board.

He said HyFlex has already been tried in one of the college’s program areas, describing student and instructor feedback as positive.

Kirkwood said it will likely be up to Sault College's professors and instructors to decide which students would be able to write course exams remotely (from home) or in class.

- SooToday