A Look Inside the SAFEbuilt Training Program

by | Oct 4, 2016

The SAFEbuilt Training Program, which launched in June 2014, was designed to help meet a growing need to find and train talented people in the community development industry. While developing a training program is nothing new in corporate America, training or apprenticeship programs in our industry are practically nonexistent.

For SAFEbuilt, the training program boils down to a plan for weathering the Silver Tsunami. In this manner, the company is prepared to replace retiring staff to ensure our client communities continue to receive the highest level of service. Cities, towns and villages in a partnership with SAFEbuilt can rest assured that even while the Silver Tsunami statistics continue to grow and loom overhead, they will not be left in the dark scrambling to find qualified professionals to service their community development departments.

Since its inception, SAFEbuilt has recruited and selected seven trainees into the program, with six of them still actively in the training. Each of the trainees, working in different offices across the country, are gaining valuable experience. They are quickly learning about the industry- not just the certifications and education required, but also the reality in the field and soft skills from those who have been practicing for the last 40 + years.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with each of the trainees in the SAFEbuilt Training Program (STP) and ask a few questions about their experience and journey thus far.

Q: How did you get involved in the SAFEbuilt Training Program?

A: Jake Dudley: Inspector in Training- Johns Creek, Georgia

I got involved with SAFEbuilt while working with a remodel contractor and pulling permits for the city of Roswell, Georgia with Ringo McCollum [SAFEbuilt Building Official] approximately two years ago. From this great experience and interaction, I decided to pursue a career change. I contacted Ringo to inquire more about a career in the building industry and becoming an inspector. Ringo told me about the SAFEbuilt Training Program and its curriculum and timeline. I applied and was later invited in for an interview. The interview went well and I was hired as the first trainee in the program.

Q: What does a typical day in the STP look like for you?

A: Ryan Greene: Inspector in Training- Roswell, Georgia

Most of my days consist of splitting my time in half. In the morning I go out with one of the inspectors to do some “on the job training.” In the afternoons I come into the office and study for whatever test I am preparing for at the time. I also cover the front desk when I am needed or when there is a learning opportunity for the permit technician side of operations.

Q: What has been your favorite experience/part about being a trainee?

A: Corey Rogers: Inspector in Training- Decatur, Georgia

I really enjoy the field experience. It has been the most helpful aspect for me thus far. I am more of a visual learner, so it accelerates my learning by actually being on the job and having the opportunity to correlate what you are seeing and working on in the code text book.

Q: What has been the most difficult or challenging part of the program?

A: Jake

Definitely the studying. I believe the most challenging part of the STP is finding a method that positions you to be successful on your certification tests. I have found myself struggling in this area but have realized that sitting down with other trainees has helped tremendously. Just being able to talk about different study methods and getting different ideas on how to prepare for the tests is crucial. Not everyone will have the same methods for studying, but just listening to the different methods and experimenting with what has worked well for others has really improved my study habits.

Q: What would you tell someone who is interested in joining the SAFEbuilt Training Program?

A: Ryan

It is a great opportunity. College is not for everyone and this program provides an individual with a great education and a solid career path without having to obtain a four year degree. It is a lot of hard work and if you don’t have good study habits, it’s imperative you develop them quickly. It is a very interesting program and the work and curriculum is never boring. Every day is something different and exciting which makes you want to wake up and go to work in the morning.

Q: Talk a little about the SAFEbuilt culture/work environment and what that means to you.

A: Brendan Pendley: Inspector in Training- Windsor, Colorado

All of my coworkers and supervisors are very knowledgeable, kind, professional and goal oriented. SAFEbuilt is a great company- everyone from your coworkers up to the leadership team treats you well. Though I am just a trainee, I truly feel that my superiors care about me and my success in the company. It is rare to find a company that treats their employees and clients which such great respect and integrity.

Q: What are some of the most important things you’ve learned during your time at SAFEbuilt about both your position and the industry?

A: David DeLeon: Inspector in Training- Glenview, Illinois

I’ve learned that no matter how long you have been in this field, you must always have the desire to keep learning. Building technology and methods are changing at such a fast pace, we need to keep up on all of these innovative changes. I have learned that I am going to run into new things just about every day and that I am going to have to make wise, educated decisions while also being patient, professional and respectful.

Q: Why do you think it’s important that both public and private sectors in local government look into and establish training programs?

A: Terrance Gibbons: Code Enforcement in Training- Tyrone, Georgia

I think public and private sectors in local government should look at establishing training programs because it’s no secret that a majority of occupations in local government are held by individuals nearing the age of retirement. This means we have to plan for the future. And one of the best ways to do that is through training programs. Training programs help ensure that the next generation of employees are well-trained and well-prepared to step into the roles previously held by baby boomers for decades. As a result, employees coming out of training programs can spend less time learning and catching up, and devote more time to making their communities a better and safer place to live, work and play.


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