Exploring careers in building safety
To celebrate week two of Building Safety Month, Matthew Winn spoke on exploring careers in building safety and the importance of training and education for building safety professionals
To start off week two of Building Safety Month — a campaign led by the International Code Council and its members and partners every May to raise awareness about the importance of building codes and the role of building safety professionals in ensuring our communities remain safe, sustainable and resilient — Matthew Winn, senior vice president of training and education at the International Code Council, spoke on exploring careers in building safety and the importance of training and education for building safety professionals during a Facebook Live chat with Maxie Mottlowitz, social media manager for the Code Council, on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Here are excerpts of the conversation, edited for clarity and length:
Mottlowitz: Hello to everyone who is listening and watching on our Facebook Live today. My name is Maxie and I am the social media manager for the International Code Council. Today, I have Matthew Winn, our senior vice president of training and education, who will be talking to us about the theme for week two of Building Safety Month, which is exploring careers in building safety. So let’s get started. What do you think would make a career in building safety and the construction industry so rewarding?
Winn: For that question, I’d probably go back to my own experience. My two older brothers and I grew up as children of plumbers. We grew up in rural Texas with shovels in our hands, doing something that we truly didn’t understand the importance of until much later in life. In a different chapter in my life, I had the privilege of going around the world and helping other people that were in developing countries and situations. Then, it finally dawned on me. Plumbing is really the foundation of modern society. I mean, clean drinking water, effective waste disposal, that’s the beginning of it all. Ultimately, I think we want to make a difference. We want to do something that we look back on and feel that we actually made the world a better place than the way we found it. With the building trades, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re making modern society, modern life possible. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
Mottlowitz: And doing something you’re passionate about is also wonderful. Why do you think it’s so important for building safety professionals to obtain training and education?
Winn: You know, the world keeps changing faster and faster. And especially over the last two years, we’ve discovered that in entirely new ways. For that reason, we should all be learning. I’m a fan of lifelong learning and the idea that we’re never going to know everything there is to know. No matter how specialized our professions are, things change, situations change and we need tools to keep up with the changes. Obviously, at the very beginning, we need the training to learn and move forward, but that never ends throughout our whole career. Not if we’re true professionals intending to make the kind of impact we’re talking about.
Mottlowitz: Right. And the more new materials you have, the better. You can keep learning and putting tools in your toolbox. How does ICC support professionals who are looking to build their careers?
Winn: Well, by supporting people through products and processes. The Code Council brings all of these resources — the codes, training and processes — that you need to move towards whatever your career goal is. We have roadmaps on our site that help guide people in that direction. I think ultimately the most important part is the people along the way that you’re going to meet people within the Code Council. You’re going to meet people in the industry, and wherever you serve, that you can learn from. You can go through life together. Some of these people are going to be mentors to you along the way. And that’s kind of the whole package. We refer to the Code Council as a family of solutions and I think you could use that analogy in this context as well.
Mottlowitz: For sure. And can you tell us about the professional development and training resources that the International Code Council offers?
Winn: Of course. I mentioned a few already but we should start with the code itself. My favorite resource is the code commentaries because they go into the how and why of things. Why is this the case of why was this put in place? The codes are great, but the commentaries really explain what the code is about. And for me, that’s a key thing. That’s what professionals really want to know. That’s what helps us develop. And we have the study guides and all types of publications that help in our continuing education as well as educational courses for those who want something more formal than just reading and updating themselves.
Mottlowitz: What kind of training is most popular and needed right now?
Winn: That probably depends on a person’s situation or what they’re pursuing. Once we have a license or certification, there’s this expectation that we’re going to continue to learn and grow. We call that continuing education. And if that’s your situation, if you’re already credentialed or licensed or certified, then the sky is the limit. I would say the more popular options are things like test academies, test preps, basic courses, and introductions to all the different topics. Those are laying the foundation for someone to pursue a new credential or something that’s going to advance their career.
Mottlowitz: It’s very exciting to be working for a company that offers so many resources to individuals to help advance their careers. Thank you so much, Matthew. You’ve given us so much information to take back and begin thinking about. As you’ve said, training and education within the building safety industry are crucial and having well-trained and motivated building safety professionals is key to creating and maintaining a successful built environment.