EduCode provides veterans with knowledge to build on
Every year since 1997, EduCode brings together thousands of code professionals for classes and sessions designed to update their code knowledge, enhance their professional development and encourage networking with their peers. Held by the Southern Nevada Chapter of ICC, in conjunction with its partners and the commitment of volunteers in Southern Nevada, the very successful international training experience served 1,460 students and 5,100 attendee days this year.
All EduCode sessions are ICC Preferred Provider certified and recognized by the Code Council for continuing education units (CEUs) towards maintenance of ICC certifications. The education serves as a review for veteran inspectors and as a valuable introduction to new inspectors. For the last two years though, the Southern Nevada Chapter of ICC and Region I have reached out beyond code and building safety industry veterans to sponsor a week of education for selected military veterans.
This year, United States Marine Corp veteran Ramon Fajardo, who works as a machine operator for a solar panel manufacturing company in Bend, Ore., was selected to attend EduCode 2019 from March 11–15, in Las Vegas, Nev., as a sponsored veteran. Fajardo counts Jack Applegate, president of ICC Region II, and International Code Council Board Director Jim Sayers as mentors.
“I have been mentoring Ramon since September of 2018 and have had the pleasure of helping him along the way whenever possible. I now consider him a friend and part of our ICC Family,” said Applegate. “When joining the ICC advisory group to help veterans, the EduCode week is exactly the type of opportunity we had all hoped for.”
With 10 years of work experience in construction — helping to build two power plants, two water-treatment plants, and more than 10 bridges along the 405 freeway in Los Angeles — Fajardo was looking to start a career as a building code official when he was selected for EduCode. He has worked closely with inspectors to ensure that structures were being built to code, has written and implemented a job hazard analysis for every operation to guarantee a safe work environment, and has utilized computer software in everyday operations to ensure that work was done in a timely manner. This valuable experience makes Fajardo a great fit to become a building official. And EduCode provided a great opportunity.
In addition to the week of sponsored education, the Code Council also donated a copy of the International Residential Code to Fajardo as part of its continued support for U.S. military veterans. The Code Council joins several ICC chapters to provide support for veterans and help sponsor them to attend EduCode, including Region I and Region II, the California Building Inspectors Group, the San Diego County Fire Chiefs Association, the Yosemite Chapter of ICC, the ICC Peninsula Chapter, the Monterey Chapter of ICC, the Sacramento Valley Association of Building Officials, the East Bay Chapter of ICC, and the Southern Nevada Chapter of ICC.
This is the second year that the Southern Nevada Chapter of ICC has sponsored a U.S. military veteran to attend EduCode. Last year, the chapter, along with CSG Consultants and the Sacramento Valley Chapter of Building Officials, sponsored retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Timothy Thornton, a building inspector intern in Abilene, Texas, to attend EduCode, including covering his air fare, hotel and miscellaneous expenses. Fellow U.S. Air Force veteran Elizabeth Rider, a building official with CSG Consultants Inc., spearheaded the effort to bring Thornton to EduCode after attending a roundtable discussion session at the Code Council’s Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
“Veterans are perfect for the building safety community,” said Rider. “During my career, I find that the best type of employee to hire is a veteran. Our veterans have integrity and are able to follow directions, and end up becoming exemplary building inspectors.”
The roundtable discussion in Columbus was led by International Code Council Senior Vice President of Government Relations Sara Yerkes. The group included more than 40 people — code professionals, military veterans, spouses of active military personnel and military representatives — that turned into an advisory group that meets several times a year to discuss how to shape the Code Council’s Military Families Career Path Program.
“We need new blood,” said Yerkes. “And they need jobs. We know people in the military have the characteristics we’re looking for: discipline, integrity, character, teamwork, technical knowledge, strong work ethic and the ability to follow procedures.”
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The Military Families Career Path Program is part of Safety 2.0, the Code Council’s signature initiative to welcome a new generation of members and leaders to the building safety professions. The military career program helps veterans who are transitioning to civilian life and their family members learn more about building safety career options. The program’s webpage explains the options available to returning veterans and their families and includes a toolkit to help them each step of the way.
Individuals who enter military service develop skill sets ideally suited to the building safety profession – attention to detail, a strong work ethic, technical knowledge and teamwork. Military family members often have the necessary skills for the building safety profession such as discipline, organization and commitment to a cause. As the building industry experiences a loss of 80 percent of its existing skilled workforce over the next 15 years, a tremendous opportunity exists for military family members and veterans looking to enter the civilian workforce. In fact, many veterans have chosen this career path. A survey of Code Council members revealed that 50 percent of respondents had previously served in the military.
In 2017, the military career program reached out to a retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant John Hammonds and arranged a ride-along with the city of Abilene, Texas. Hammonds enjoyed the day with Abilene Building Department staff and received a thorough introduction to the building inspection career field as well as a six-month ICC membership, a 2015 International Code book and further training opportunities. His goal was to take the skills and discipline he learned in the military and transfer them to a career where he can again protect the health, safety and welfare of American citizens.
“Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna and Chief Building Official Tim Littlejohn as well as other city staff were integral to organizing the ride-along opportunity and the hands-on introduction to the building industry for Chief Hammonds,” said Code Council Government Relations Regional Manager Kelly Sadler. “Building industry support like this is not only needed, but deserved for veterans transitioning to new careers.”
“It was like he just dropped in the right place at the right time,” Rider remembered. “So that’s the plan. Give our veterans the dignity of a new career as a building inspector, while helping ourselves out with superior candidates for the job.”
Service members serve their country and protect lives. Those in the building safety profession also protect their communities by ensuring safe buildings where people live, work and play. The Code Council is grateful for the sacrifices that service members and their families have made to keep us safe and is committed to ensuring their success after service.