Mike Holland wrote that 26 years ago, in response to the ongoing struggle for an adequate craft workforce, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston (ABC) and the Houston Business Roundtable established the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF). CMEF was created to use owner-allocated funds for craft certification, assessment, and training of the workers needed by first the industrial and now also the commercial construction industry. This spring, ABC Houston and CMEF unveiled their new Performance Verification Center at an open house where industry professionals enjoyed a guided tour of the facility, met some of the staff, and learned how the Center could benefit their businesses.
Glen O’Mary, Director of Education for ABC/CMEF Performance Verification Center explained what the Center offers:
“We provide an outlet for contractors to have their employees go through a part of the NCCER performance verification test: the piece of their certification which is a ‘hands on’ task which must be passed in addition to the written knowledge part of the certification.”
As Holland noted, CMEF integrates the NCCER curriculum into local area high schools and community colleges. CMEF currently has 22 sponsored high schools working on the NCCER curriculum, as well as three post-secondary community college training programs, and they expect to expand to six or seven programs by the end of this year.
After students complete training, they must be evaluated in order to receive the NCCER certification they seek. Employers are not always able to provide the specific types of jobsites needed for evaluation in each type of certification – or at least not without disrupting production at their sites. The new Performance Verification Center provides a controlled environment in which a craft professional's skills and ability are tested by a certified Performance Evaluator who verifies that he or she can safely and skillfully perform their chosen craft.
Steven Horton, ED.D. is the Schools Program Director at CMEF. Formerly Dean of Technical Education at San Jacinto College, Dr. Horton retired after 39 academic years and immediately came to CMEF where he feels fortunate to have “an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people the foundation serves.”
In the following 6-minute video, he explains that if successful, a student leaves with an NCCER Certified Plus Status. This tells owners that the worker is a journeyman-level status person that can do the job hired for, and assures contractors that this employee can enter the worksite and be part of a safe, skilled, sustainable workforce. “That is really what I think we are about – a safe, skilled, sustainable workforce,” he says.
Located at 2950 East X Street in La Porte, Texas, the Center provides hands-on evaluation of craft performance skills in the following areas:
- Scaffold Building
- Instrumentation Fitter
- Concrete Finisher
- Crane, Rigging, & Signal Person
CMEF is a non-profit 501 (c3) solely devoted to servicing the workforce development needs of the contractor community through programs ranging from craft and safety training to management and leadership instruction. CMEF is accredited by the NCCER, and all courses are taught using the nationally standardized NCCER curriculum. To learn more about CMEF or its program offerings, contact the CMEF office at 281-478-3900.
Coming up: Look for more video interviews from the instructors and staff who make this organization such a success!