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Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
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SUMMATION

Mark Grammer1

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Many of the symposium presentations made the point that people are an organization’s most valuable resource and that the only way an organization can accomplish anything is through its people. An organization must, therefore, develop its people for the present and the future. The presentations also emphasized, however, that the educational development plans of individuals should track an organization’s goals, as defined in its strategic plan.

Many of the presentations also emphasized that continuing education in the broadest sense is a lifelong process that takes many forms. It encompasses training both on the job and in the classroom and includes cross-training in other areas as well as overall rounding of communications and management skills. Ideally, continuing education will focus on different areas depending on where people are in their careers; for example:

  • The development of technical competence is important in the early phases of a career.

  • Communications skills also need to be developed early in a career because they are essential for career advancement.

  • Managerial and supervisory skills need to be developed throughout the mid level and into the upper levels of a career.

Several participants also noted that money spent on continuing education should not be viewed as merely another business expenditure; rather, it should be considered an investment in the future of an organization and a method of reducing future costs. Investments in education often pay large dividends in the form of

1

With input from several task group members

Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
×

savings in the future. A well educated work force is the key to mission accomplishment at minimum expense to the taxpayer.

Based on the presentations and the views expressed during the roundtable discussion at the end of the symposium, the Task Group believes that considerable agreement exists on answers to the question posed in the symposium announcement; specifically:

  1. What is continuing education, and how does it differ from other training?

    Whereas training is aimed at developing skills for a specific task or job, continuing education emphasizes long-term development. One primary purpose is to help professionals remain up to date. It is generally focused on higher level learning--especially in technical subjects and interpersonal relations. It is formal and should be linked to current and future skill needs of the organization. Marjorie Budd emphasized this last point in her talk when she reported that the proposed new regulations of the Office of Personnel Management “will require each agency to establish a process that systematically links its training and development plans and resources to the agency ’s mission, strategic plans, performance goals, and priorities.”

  2. When is continuing education really necessary for construction professionals?

    Since construction professionals deal with costly projects with significant public safety impacts, technical and managerial mistakes can have serious consequences. Consequently, continuing education programs dealing with safety and project management are appropriate. Education programs that keep professionals abreast of new and changing technology--such as new equipment and methods for tunneling and subsurface foundation treatments--also would be appropriate and important. It is usually better and cheaper to maintain or improve the proficiency of a current employee than to hire a new employee.

  3. What types of continuing education programs are worthwhile, and how can results be measured?

    To some extent all continuing education is worthwhile as long as it is focused on the current and future direction of the agency. However, as Elmer Haight indicated in his talk, “We also consider [continuing education to be] much more effective when individuals take the initiative to better themselves and broaden their skills to keep up to date in this time of rapidly changing technology.” He also noted that educational courses aimed at developing interpersonal, communications, supervisory, and conflict resolution skills are not only useful, but necessary for a smooth running organization.

    James Wear reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs had found short courses of 3 days to 2 weeks on such topics as codes and standards, cost estimating, quality control, and contract administration to be especially worthwhile.

    While the benefits of continuing education are sometimes difficult to measure, an indication of the value of a program can be obtained by monitoring employee job

Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
×

performance and job satisfaction. Participants did not recommend the use of testing to measure the effectiveness of continuing education programs.

  1. What should be the policy of federal construction agencies on requiring and/or subsidizing continuing education?

    The participants generally did not endorse the idea of the federal government requiring construction professionals to take specific continuing education courses, except possibly for individuals who deal with rapidly changing technology. However, it was noted in the symposium that engineering registration boards might soon require professional engineers to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their professional status. When such requirements are established, they will apply to federal engineers as well as all other engineers.

    With regard to federal agencies subsidizing continuing education, most of the participants seemed to favor following the policies of large private employers. However, subsidies for education apparently is not a major issue in the federal government since participants reported hearing few complaints about current federal policies on the subject.

Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
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Page 32
Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
×
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"SUMMATION." National Research Council. 1994. Continuing Education for Construction Professionals: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9138.
×
Page 34
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