HAS breaks ground on new training center
Oct. 30, 2015

HOUSTON — Building facilities and infrastructure for the future requires a construction workforce with current and expansive knowledge and skills, and the Houston Airport System (HAS) took another major step forward toward achieving that goal today when it broke ground for the renovation of a new training center designed to enhance the skill safety and construction skills set of various employees working on HAS-designated construction projects.

The Houston Area Construction Education Collaborative (HACEC) training center, located in a former warehouse along Lee Road at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), will provide a mandatory training classes where OSHA and HAS safety and security guidelines and requirements are laid out in a detailed fashion. Both HAS employees and contractor employees working on HAS-designated construction projects will be introduced to the dynamic environment of working on an airport prior to being actually mobilized on their job site. The educational collaborative and training center also will be available to HAS and contractor employees as they look to upgrade their craft skills by receiving training in various construction-related crafts.

“With the tremendous growth of the Houston Airport System, a well-trained and prepared workforce is vital,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “This new education training center will help ensure construction on these important projects is completed in the most efficient and safe manner possible, and also give the Houston region a more powerful and dynamic workforce, thanks to the craft skills that are sharpened at the new facility.”

The 40,000 square foot facility will feature a mix of classroom, laboratory and office spaces and provide a variety of construction craft skill training, including:

Project management Heavy equipment operation Concrete and asphalt
Steel/iron work Metal framing Pipe fitting
Welding HVACR Sheet metal
Electrical Fire sprinkler Plumbing
Carpentry and masonry Flooring Roofing

All training provided will be certified through appropriate organizations, like the National Center for Construction Education or OSHA, and will offer a unique three-step training process that includes safety training, construction skills training and hands-on internships.

“With the growth at all of our airports, it is essential that the Houston Airport System has an available and well-educated, thoroughly prepared and highly qualified workforce to ensure the success and quality of our various construction projects,” Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz said. “This new training center is proactive in achieving that goal and will ensure — whether that person is employed by the airport system or a private sector company — that the professionals working on these projects have a solid grasp on the skills needed to perform their job safely, as well as skill sets that keep pace with constantly evolving industry practices.”

Under a plan approved by Houston City Council in January 2015, the HACEC entered into a mutually beneficial partnership between HAS and a coalition of regional institutions of higher learning, including: Lone Star College System (LSCS), Houston Community College (HCC), and San Jacinto College District (SJCD).

Because of its vested interest, HAS is playing a direct role in the funding required to launch and operate the training program. The agreement calls for HAS to provide funding support for the training center by making financial contributions based on each contractor-employee labor hour actually worked by construction firms engaged in the HAS-designated capital projects.

The benefits from this innovative initiative will be seen in a number of important areas. For example, the extended training is expected to reduce the likelihood of construction related injuries, thereby reducing the likelihood of lost-time work injuries and may result in a reduction of the airport system’s insurance program premiums. The training also provides craft training to construction employees, improving that person’s job-related capabilities and earning power. And finally, in a very competitive construction labor market, these improved craft skills will translate into support of the greater Houston community and improve local engagement in the HAS-designated capital projects.

The program comes at a pivotal time for HAS, as detailed plans continue to move forward in the construction of a new international terminal building at IAH. The agreement guarantees the program through the life of that project — slated for completion in 2022 — but does not limit it to that designated period of time.