Rose morrisonRose Morrison • 

As a subcontractor, you know the fast-paced nature of construction well. Meeting hard deadlines, operating dangerous equipment and using a unique skill set daily is no easy feat. Because your tools and techniques are constantly advancing, keeping you and your construction team up-to-date in the industry is best practice.

Educating yourself about new technologies and skill sets means meeting deadlines more efficiently, reducing wear and tear on equipment, saving fuel and money and keeping your crew safe. To achieve these goals, consider continuous learning to allow your workers to advance their knowledge through learning programs with you as a coach and mentor.

You can provide clear objectives to your team and ways to promote continuous learning. Stay up-to-date efficiently and smoothly with these steps to foster your construction team’s growth and skills.

What is Continuous Learning?

Continuous learning is not like your typical classroom — this model has no end date. Instead, it promotes a life-long commitment to growth. This can be the development of positive character traits like leadership or more tactile skills, such as equipment maintenance and handling. By fostering a company mindset of continuous learning, your team will have the opportunities to progress consistently, never stagnating in their position.

However, continuous learning also allows a balance of mentor involvement and solo work. You are handling various people with different experiences and skills, after all. Employees can learn to be more self-sufficient by forging a path of individual growth and education.

For your construction team, you may want to pursue some of these topics:

Specialized equipment operation Time management and deadlines Leadership Implementation of new technologies Updated safety procedures

If you are facing overextended deadlines and poor employee involvement, training is more than likely your solution. Continual learning requires time management to balance this training with daily projects.

How to Promote Ongoing Learning

With proper training, a construction team member reduces their cycle times by up to four seconds. Your crew can become more efficient in their tasks by putting in the work to learn and develop. Here are six ways to keep them committed to growing.

1. Keep a Calendar A learning calendar is a great way to keep these lessons organized and on a set timeline. If you are considering an online learning program, assign projects a month in advance for your team to complete.

Not only is completing these lessons necessary, but retaining and discussing them as well. You want to be able to put these skills into practice. At the end of the month, think about planning a team touchpoint to recall what everyone learned.

Some popular construction online training programs that are great for slicing up into a monthly timeline are:

If you think your team would benefit from a more hands-on approach, your calendar dates can include shadowing events. Newer team members can watch and learn from experienced employees. Their conversations and direct mentoring can offer a wealth of practical knowledge relevant to your projects. Whether you’re going virtual or in-person, a clear calendar of deadlines helps your construction team advance their goals.

2. Use Local Learning and Conferences Are there relevant trade schools and construction partners in your area? Consider talking with these associations for some more hands-on training on specialized equipment or safety protocols. Providing this monthly seminar or learning program keeps your crew up-to-date and always ready to learn something new.

Taking your team to a conference is another option. Many are virtual, but a team-building road trip may be the right option for you, too. Various industry experts present new technologies and practices during these events.

Going to these conferences and workshops is another form of networking. Learning from other subcontractors and industry professionals is a valuable source you cannot find just anywhere.

3. Consider Certifications Some industry professionals see construction skills as a lost art, with 95% of US contractors considering construction crews to be underqualified to complete their job. Staying current with your team’s skills and knowledge could allow everyone to complete projects faster and assure clients you have a trusted team of professionals working with you.

Consider implementing a required certification program for your workers. There are thousands of certifications, but these may be suitable options for your team:

If you are interested in honing in on specifics, consider delegating certain employees to seek certifications in plumbing, heating, piping and air conditioning. With these certifications, your team clearly understands their roles and responsibilities — and can prove these to your customers.

4. Focus on New Technologies Technology, tools and equipment are vital to your job, so innovations in these areas are pertinent for you and your crew to study. With more knowledge of specialized tools, you can also reach more clients.

Visual technology can help scout potential sites for construction or 3D render mock-ups of proposed plans. Drones capture bird’s-eye view shots of your location and virtual and augmented reality can let a client walk through a space in the digital world.

In the world of equipment, 3D printed tools and safety wearables are rising in popularity. In your hands or computers, technology is changing the construction industry. Staying up-to-date with these advancements can impress clients, prepare your team for more improvements in the future and complete projects much more efficiently.

4. Update Safety Measures The daily life of a construction professional sees the management of hefty, often dangerous machinery. Updating safety information and protocol is also a vital part of subcontracting. You know the responsibility and likely already pay close attention to safety measures for your team.

However, monitoring upgrades in equipment manuals or new practices in OSHA guides is crucial. Schedule a monthly team meeting to discuss all updated safety guidelines to ensure your team is aware and proactive. By having frequent discussions, updates on posted regulations and training opportunities, your workers can be more comfortable.

5. Cultivate a Culture of Education Subcontractors can provide an environment of continuous learning through mentorship and coaching. Many items on this list include individual training or industry expert advice, but you are your crew’s trusted advisor. By setting an example and offering encouragement, your team may be more likely to continue learning with excitement.

Personal touchpoints and guidance show that you care about their progression in the field and their well-being. Clearly defining the goals of their objectives also gives you a chance to celebrate your team.

Incentives can go a long way towards motivation. A pizza party after a certain number of lessons or a gift card after implementing a new technology reinforces the sense this team learns, works, and celebrates their accomplishments together.

6. Stay Up-to-Date Construction management is a somewhat oversaturated field and education is not uniform. You can lead by example by keeping yourself up-to-date and continuously learning.

Knowing you are busy managing a team and a variety of projects, consider online training programs targeting subcontractors and construction management. Your learning calendar may look similar to the ones you create for your crew and give you insight into their experience.

Programs like the Associated General Contractors of America and the National Association of Home Builders provide management and industry technology courses. For a further look, you could get a degree in construction management. The combination of your practical experience in the field and advancement of studies in project scheduling, supplier and rental communication and financial management offers a new understanding of your role.

Advancing Construction with Ongoing Learning

The future of construction is continual learning. Keeping an eye on new technologies, safety measures and industry training is vital to having a well-run and motivated construction team.

By promoting incentives, clear goals and schedules and providing training programs, your team can gather the skills to succeed and learn independently. Speed forward to success with these steps and find a happy balance between training and tackling your deadlines.

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