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Model Building Code Training for High School Students

Graduates can earn Certificate of Achievement and an edge when competing for code enforcement and other construction industry jobs

A pilot program that began in Maryland to prepare high school students for careers in code enforcement and the construction trades is expanding nationally with the support of the International Code Council. The Code Council is backing code training for high school students based on a program begun by Harford Technical High School in Bel Air, Md., and encouraging technical and vocational high schools to offer similar programs.

The High School Technical Training Program teaches students the importance of building codes in constructing safe and sustainable structures. The curriculum will cover four major construction fields contained in the ICC International Residential Code: building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical. Graduates of the program will have the opportunity to earn an ICC Certificate of Achievement demonstrating proficiency and knowledge.

“I am excited about this innovative approach to teach high school students about the importance of building codes, and it will provide graduates with an advantage in the job market,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Richard P. Weiland.

Jim Ellwood, Senior Plans Examiner, Building Service Division, Harford County, is the originator of the pilot program at Harford Technical High School and he spoke at the Government Relations Forum during the Council’s Annual Conference in November. “Folks say I’m enthusiastic about this program,” said Ellwood. “How could I not be? I have a group of young people who want to excel in their careers.”

The program has recently expanded to York Technical High School in York, Penn., with plans to expand to several other high schools across the county. Both York and Harford schools are now Members of the Code Council, and many students have obtained individual student memberships as well.

“Building officials joining together and mentoring this program will provide the ICC and building code communities an opportunity to contribute to the workforce of the future, and ensure that the ICC remains a leader in code development and code education,” Ellwood said.

A 2011 study, Pathways to Prosperity published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, outlined the need for a well-educated and certified workforce. The report extols the importance of technical schools and the value they contribute to the economy. The research reinforces the need for programs such the Code Council’s new High School Technical Training Program.

Since its inception in 2009, the Maryland-based pilot program quickly found success in vocational and technical high schools. Last year, the program graduated 35 students who earned certificates of proficiency. The High School Vocational Training Program expands the pilot program to all vocational and technical high schools nationwide that want to offer a building code-based curriculum. The program increases students’ proficiency in building codes while they work toward becoming an ICC Certified Code Professional.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Jim Ellwood December 2, 2011, 11:45 am

    Any code officials interested in this program and requiring more information please feel free to contact me at jvellwood@harfordcountymd.gov and I will email our brochuer and pamphlets .

  • Brian Duval December 9, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I hope they start with how to properly fill out a Building Permit Application.

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