Best practices: PCL Construction Ltd

A trained workforce is a competitive advantage

PCL Construction Ltd. has a reputation throughout industry for workforce development.

PCL encourages mentorship-signs with the slogan "each one, teach one" are commonplace at company sites and offices-enabling skills and techniques as builders to be passed from one to another.

But training is also critical for the Edmonton-based company, which employs more than 3,300 full-time professional and administrative salaried staff and more than 6,500 hourly tradespeople. So it's little wonder that many of PCL's senior managers started as tradespeople and worked their way up.

"Most of our superintendents began with the company as journeymen carpenters or in another trade," notes Rob Johnstone, PCL's corporate training consultant.

Johnstone says the company's training facility and program-the College of Construction-symbolizes and highlights PCL's commitment to training its workforce.

"Last year we put 3,900 people through all of our various training programs, with about 300 or 400 of those being hourly employees," he says, adding that an introductory health and safety course, which can run from three hours to a full day, is compulsory for all new employees.

Johnstone believes PCL's extensive training programs give it an advantage in recruiting.

"Our recruitment has become a global activity, just as we are a global company," he says.

The College of Construction helps integrate all new employees and also helps longer-term employees advance their skills.

"We provide a variety of training, including health and safety, in planning and scheduling, in business skills and in management and leadership," Johnstone says.

All company employees with management responsibilities take a two-day "team leader" course that offers information on labour laws and management skills, such as hiring and firing employees, motivation and other skills.

PCL's management training is so respected it was asked by a consortium of construction firms in the United States to help in developing a training program for them, he says.

Overall, he says the company has about 12 business skills training courses for employees.

"Every PCL employee has a requirement to go through a minimum of 36 hours of training a year," Johnstone says.

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