For the International Training Institute (ITI), accreditation is a critical, independent, third-party evaluation that proves training centers meet rigorous standards established by the accreditation board. As with any accredited higher education institution, it is important for programs to continuously improve. Accreditation and internal assessments help to ensure there is continuity across all the training centers and that each is held to the same high standards.
The ITI’s accreditation board is made up of four insiders who represent the industry — one member from the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, one member from the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), one active training coordinator and one retired training coordinator — plus one outside expert from higher education with knowledge of apprenticeship and journeyperson training. The board performs accreditation assessments every five years, and each training center must complete internal self-assessments annually during the off years.
“Prior to each formal five-year accreditation cycle, the board meets to assess the criteria used to determine accreditation levels and periodically adjust its requirements and scoring based on those assessments,” said Ron McGuire, ITI program administrator. “In 2017, the board added a new top-tier, platinum level. And this year, it increased the total scores necessary to attain any of the four levels of accreditation.”
The four possible accreditation levels are bronze, silver, gold and platinum. To earn any level of accreditation, the training facilities are required to document everything from everyday business practices such as insurance and trust documents to class curriculum, program training plans and details on how each course is taught to apprentices enrolled in the program. In addition, training coordinators must document their training centers’ recruitment efforts and collaboration with local vocational schools and contractors.
The criteria, broken down into 17 categories, range in points from one to five, for a total of 588 possible points. To receive any level of accreditation, a training facility must meet 60 of the mandatory criteria. As of this accreditation cycle, Bias and Belonging training, a three-hour course to introduce participants to the science of implicit bias, has been added as a requirement.
To assist coordinators in completing all the necessary steps for uploading their required documents for accreditation, the ITI has an accreditation web portal that hosts webinars and provides a space for questions and answers as well as collaboration between coordinators.
Once the assessment is completed, a report is generated and sent to the coordinator. The coordinator is then given an opportunity to submit further documentation to address any missing required elements and raise their overall accreditation score. Afterward, a final report is submitted to the ITI accreditation board for review and determination of accreditation level.
The current accreditation cycle has just begun, and 11 platinum awards have already resulted for reviewed training centers. Among them is Sheet Metal Workers Local 49’s training center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Iris Urquidi, training coordinator at Local 49, offered advice “not to wait until the last minute to begin the process” as well as to attend the ITI’s accreditation meeting.
Dennis Moran, coordinator for Sheet Metal Workers Local 265 in Carol Stream, Illinois, has been through three accreditation cycles as a coordinator and previously earned gold level.
“It gets easier,” he said. “This time, we got platinum. After you have done it once, you have the basis for how it works and can create a system. For me, the key was to update my folders constantly throughout the year, so when it was time to renew our accreditation, most of my documents were up to date, making accreditation much faster to complete.”
Other platinum awardees include Sheet Metal Workers Local 88 in Las Vegas; Indiana’s Local 20 centers in Indianapolis, Portage-Fort Wayne, Evansville and South Bend; Local 36 in St. Louis; Local 2 in Kansas City, Missouri; and Local 359 in Phoenix.
For more information about ITI and its available training curriculum for members covering sheet metal trade work, visit the website or call 703-739-7200.