Training centers rise to the challenge of accreditation

The International Training Institute (ITI) Accreditation Board periodically reviews and adjusts the requirements for its sheet metal training centers to attain accreditation. The board, which is made up of four members representing the sheet metal industry — one labor, one management, one active training center coordinator and one retired training center coordinator; and one person representing higher education with knowledge of apprenticeship and journeyperson training — most recently updated its requirements in 2017 and added a new top tier level of platinum for those training centers that score near perfect on their review.

“Meeting the criteria to be awarded the platinum level is hard, but attainable,” said Mike Harris, ITI program director. “I’m really proud of those training centers that have stepped up their game and risen to the challenge. To date, we have seen nearly 20% of those reviewed centers awarded the highest distinction.”

Local 24 in Dayton, Ohio, is among the distinguished group of centers to receive the coveted platinum accreditation. Eugene Frazier, training director, said the recognition for their efforts “means a lot and shows just how hard the center staff works to ensure they are providing the highest quality program to students.”

Local 33 in Toledo, Ohio, and Western Washington Sheet Metal Local 66 also recently earned the distinction.

To earn the platinum accreditation, the center had to document everything from everyday business practices such as insurance and trust documents to class curriculum, program training plans and details of how each course will be taught to apprentices who are enrolled in the program. In addition, they had to document their recruitment efforts and collaboration with local vocational schools and contractors.

Training centers are assessed by the board every five years and must complete internal assessments annually in the off years.

Effective in 2017, there are four levels of accreditation: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The level of accreditation awarded is based upon meeting all of the minimum required criteria as well as an accreditation point total.

Accreditation Levels*
Level Point Totals
Platinum 557 to 520**
Gold 519 to 505
Silver 504 to 466
Bronze 465 and lower
*Must meet all required criteria to achieve any level of accreditation
**Must also meet all Platinum specific requirements as well as the above point requirements

There are 143 total accreditation criteria, which are broken down into 17 categories. The potential points awarded range from one to five for each of the 143 criteria, for a total of 557 possible points. To receive any level of accreditation, 60 of the 143 criteria are mandatory. A platinum level accreditation is awarded to those centers that successfully complete the five platinum required criteria and attain at least 520 points in addition to the other mandatory criteria.

One of the changes made by the board in 2017 included the requirement that centers submit all documents for review through TotalTrack. To do so, the center coordinator is provided a folder structure in TotalTrack that matches the criteria. To assist the coordinators in completing all the necessary steps for uploading their required documents, the ITI has set up an accreditation web portal where it hosts webinars and provides a space for questions and answers and collaboration between coordinators.

Once the center has compiled all of the documents required in each folder, the folders need to be compressed and uploaded to the system. The ITI staff still has to physically visit each center to verify 21 of the required criteria, but the use of TotalTrack for submission for the other documents has sped up the process for the assessors.

Once the assessment is complete, a report is sent to the coordinator listing the current point total and any criteria for which they did not receive credit. The center coordinator is then given an opportunity to submit further documentation to address any required elements or to raise their overall accreditation score. A final report is then presented to the ITI Accreditation Board for final review and determination of accreditation.

More than 14,000 apprentices are registered at 148 training facilities across the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (formerly the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training for union workers in the sheet metal heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), welding and industrial, architectural and ornamental, and service and testing, adjusting and balancing industry throughout the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, the ITI develops and produces a standardized sheet metal curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.

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.

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