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IUPAT Opens $3.5M Training Facility

Thursday, September 6, 2012

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The world’s largest painters’ union has launched a $3.5 million facility that aims to be the country’s premiere training site for industrial, commercial and residential painters and related trades.

The new 75,000-square-foot facility, developed by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council #2, recently opened its doors in Chesterfield, MO, just outside St. Louis.

 A two-story steel frame is used to train industrial painters in abrasive blasting, coatings application, rigging and containment.

 Photos: IUPAT District Council #2

Two-story steel framing is used for training in abrasive blasting, industrial coating application, rigging and containment.

The center will offer a wide variety of training for painters in every sector, drywall finishers, paperhangers and glaziers. The goal is to tackle skill shortages in the coating and finishing industries by training new hires and improving the skills of the current workforce.

The center more than triples the school’s previous space and unites classes once spread among five buildings in St. Louis area.

A formal dedication is planned for the fall.

Industrial Painting Training

For industrial painters, the center will offer training in health and safety, surface preparation, abrasive blasting, rigging, containment, access and coatings application.

On-site mock structures, a spray booth, and an abrasive blasting booth will allow hands-on experience and practice, officials said.

Industrial painters will work on a two-story steel frame that simulates interior and exterior industrial surfaces. Trainees will spray on surface coatings and remove them with abrasive blasting.

Also available are Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) certifications and journeyman safety training, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10- and 30-Hour, lead abatement and licensure, and scaffolding.

The facility can accommodate 425 students and is packed with technical and hands-on resources, including six classrooms equipped with audio/visual systems; a blueprint room; and bench work space for initial technique training.

Commercial Painting, EIFS

The center also features two mock residential/commercial structures for interior and exterior training. The structure stands two stories and features 36 interior rooms with eight- and 12-foot ceilings, as well as a variety of window and door frame treatments.

The exterior is siding and exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS) with numerous cornice and shutter layouts.

A mock commercial storefront will be added in 2013 for glazier training, including glass and framing fabrication and installation.

Drywall Finishing

Drywall finishers will train in a second two-story simulated space with 46 rooms. The structure has eight-foot ceilings and radius and splay work.

Tim Klotz, director of training for Painters District Council #2, said today’s drywall finishers need exposure to large amounts of radius and splay angle work, because they are so pervasive in current building designs. 

After three rounds of practice on each surface, drywall will be removed and replaced to create fresh practice space.

Real-Life Designs

The center was designed to be the country’s leading training facility for painters and related trades.

Classrooms were designed to “be conducive to instructor presentation and student learning,” and real-world conditions were reproduced as much as possible, said Klotz.

 Painters and related trades train on finished and unfinished commercial and residential structures.
Painters and related trades train on finished and unfinished commercial and residential structures.

“Job-site conditions must be provided for hands-on training at the school if you expect the tasks to be repeated properly on the construction site,” said Klotz. “All of the mistakes that inexperienced students are bound to make should be made and corrected at the training facility, instead of a customer’s building.”

Charles E. Bell Architects Inc., based in Clayton, MO, designed the classrooms and structures. The general contractors were RPA Construction Services and J.W. Fuller Construction.

Program Certifications

With the expanded facility, the union’s apprenticeship program will increase to four years from three and will include courses on industrial coatings; safety; general painting; exteriors; drywall and wood finishing; wallcoverings; abrasive blasting; and decorative finishes.

The training facility was funded by the 2,200 members of Painters District Council #2, the St. Louis Painting and Decorating Contractors of America/Finishing Contractors Association (PDCA/FCA), Glaziers Local 513, and the Architectural Glass and Metal Association.

Founded in 1889, Painters District Council #2 represents men and women in Eastern Missouri who work in painting, drywall finishing, glazing, floor covering, and sign and trade show/convention display.

Wanted: Skilled Workers

The U.S. construction industry is starving for the next generation’s skilled-trade workforce, according to experts.

The skills shortage has left many in the industry concerned about the future.

A recent construction industry survey found that that 69% of architect, engineer and contractor (AEC) professionals expect to feel the effects of skilled-workforce shortages in the next three years; 32% of AECs are concerned about a shortage of specialty-trade contractors by 2014; 49% of general contractors are concerned about finding skilled craft workers by 2017; and 37% of architect and engineering firms are worried about finding experienced professionals.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Access; Containment; Drywall; Health and safety; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Lead paint abatement; OSHA; Painters; SSPC; Worker training

Comment from Keith Holdsworth, (1/2/2013, 9:00 AM)

Very impressive, great concept and great job bringing something so comprehensive together.

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