Humber College in Toronto is building a talent pipeline into the Canadian property restoration industry.
“We’re looking at building a program that will help get more talented, skilled professionals into the restoration property management space, and then have graduates work in or towards the project management role in that industry,” says John McNeil, program coordinator of the Insurance Management program at Humber College. “What we’re looking at is building a readiness program.”
The new ‘Disaster Recovery Manager Program’ will be piloted in the winter and target career-changers. That might include new grads from a university college or high school, trades professionals, and even P&C industry professionals – for example, underwriters, brokers or adjusters — who may want to transition into the property restoration field.
To support the transition, the three- to four-month program will be taught in a way that makes it easier for people to participate in the program while still holding full-time jobs.
“The readiness program is going to be 100% online, with both instructor-led and self-directed learning,” McNeil tells Canadian Underwriter. “This allows people to maintain their full-time jobs and status of living, while at the same time switching careers in a less disruptive way than pursuing a full-time program, for example.”
McNeil says he has listened to executives in the property restoration industry tell him there is a “dire, dire need” for talent in this space.
“In a time where all industries seem to be faced with a staffing shortage, the restoration industry has definitely felt that need,” Tim Heggie, senior vice president of business development at Paul Davis Canada, tells CU. “The need for professionals who have the necessary industry and much needed ‘soft skills’ is more pronounced than ever. Paul Davis is excited to partner with Humber College to support new professionals in this great industry and be part of the solution.”
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The shortage of talented individuals in restoration stems from a variety of factors, as Leah Pearson, First OnSite’s director of global talent acquisition, explains to CU.
“Rapid advancements in technology, an aging workforce, and increased demand for restoration services have created a significant gap in the availability of skilled professionals,” Pearson says. “These challenges not only impact the efficiency and effectiveness of restoration projects but also hinder our ability to meet the needs of our clients in a timely and comprehensive manner.
“To overcome this talent shortage, we firmly believe in participating in the development of a robust post-secondary program dedicated to building the skills required for successful restoration careers. We aim to attract and cultivate a new generation of talented professionals who are passionate about helping people in their time of need and passionate about restoration.
“We firmly believe this Disaster Recovery Manager Program will serve as a catalyst for positive change in the restoration industry. It will not only bridge the talent gap but also elevate the standards of excellence within our field.”
What students will learn
Graduates of the Humber College program will receive a continuous professional learning certificate. During the program, participants will complete two key courses in the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)’s program. The first is the FSRT certification, which stands for Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician certification. The second is the WDRT or Water Damage Restoration Technician certification. Students graduating the Humber College program will come out with both IICRC certifications.
Program participants will also learn the technology they will need to know for their industry role.
Humber College has established a partnership with Verisk, an industry property estimation solutions software firm, so that program participants will learn and become certified Xactimate Level 1 users.
Encircle has also partnered with the program. Its phone app is used for field documentation, including photos and videos, communication with stakeholders, and documentation related to hydro logs, floor plans, building contents, and digital forms and e-signatures.
Thus far, several of Canada’s major property restoration firms have pledged to help build the program, including First Onsite, ServiceMaster Canada, DKI Canada, Paul Davis Canada, First General, Belfor, Onside and ClaimsPro.
“We really want to shorten the orientation or onboarding for property restoration companies and really provide them with not only a talent pipeline, but with students,” McNeil says. “Program graduates will have a massive head start pursuing their property restoration management careers.”
Feature photo courtesy of iStock.com/archigram