The Houston Airport System (HAS) is taking a major step forward in enhancing the levels of both safety and efficiency surrounding the various construction projects taking place at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD). A new training center is set to be built at an existing IAH warehouse, designed to enhance the skill set of various employees working on HAS-designated construction projects.
“Continuing education and training are important in just about every professional field but it’s especially vital in the area of construction,” says Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “This new training center will help to ensure that our vital airport facilities are growing in a manner that’s both safe and efficient.”
Under the plan approved by Houston City Council members on January 28, 2015, the Houston Area Construction Education Collaborative (HACEC) creates a mutually beneficial partnership between the Houston Airport System and the following institutions of higher learning: Houston Community College (HCC), San Jacinto College and the Lone Star College System.
After constructing the education training center, to be located along Lee Road at IAH, all employees working on HAS-designated construction projects will be required to attend a mandatory training class where OSHA and Houston Airport System safety and security guidelines and requirements are laid out in a detailed fashion. Contractor employees will be given a sense of what it’s like to work in a dynamic airport environment. The center will also be available to those same employees as they look to upgrade their craft skills by receiving training in various construction-related fields.
“It is in the best interest of the Houston Airport System to have a well-educated, highly qualified workforce spearheading our various construction projects,” says Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. “Whether that person is employed by HAS or a private sector company, they need to have a solid grasp on the skills that are needed to perform their job and that skill set needs to be constantly evolving.”
Diaz says the Houston Airport System will reap the benefits of this training in several key 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 aystem’s insurance program premiums. The training will also provide 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 Houston region will wind up with a more powerful workforce, thanks to the craft skills that are sharpened at the new education training center.
Because of this vested interest, the Houston Airport System is playing a direct role in the funding required to launch and operate the training system. 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 program comes at a pivotal time for the HAS leadership team, as detailed plans continue to move forward in the construction of a new international terminal building at IAH. The agreement that was finalized at City Hall 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.