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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Build your career

By Lauren Breslin
Special to The Sun

Ontario's construction industry is showing few signs of letting up. As one of the largest employers in the province, construction accounts for some 6% of Ontario's workforce, and is expected to grow faster than any other industry in the GTA.

But it's the complexity of the industry that's growing, too. Sophisticated technologies and new standards for buildings and materials, energy efficiency and environmental protection have changed the very nature of construction as we know it. These changes call for a new kind of qualified professional -- the manager of construction.

George Brown College is answering this call. Beginning in September 2005, George Brown's faculty of technology will offer the province's only four-year Bachelor of Construction Science and Management degree program, designed to meet the needs of a changing industry, both now and in the future.

"Clearly the industry has been in serious transformation," says Temple Harris, president of the Toronto Construction Association (TCA). "New technologies and new management techniques are being introduced all the time. These initiatives require people who are very sophisticated in understanding the science of construction, but also the science of management. And it's really the combination of those two key skills that are desperately needed out in the marketplace."

Co-op component

The new four-year program, which includes a co-op component, will prepare students for a remarkable range of positions in the field. Its curriculum will be split between building sciences and practical business skills.

"The two key pieces is bringing together the science of construction -- how to build things -- and the science of management -- how to manage them," says Harris. "And there's a third component which is communications -- how to communicate person-to-person through technology, and how to move a project from its infancy until it is complete."

The program will cover everything from construction methods and materials, to project development, building codes and standards, contract negotiations and human resource management -- to name a few. "The industry itself, through the TCA and the Ontario General Contractors Association, actually worked with us to develop the curriculum shelf," says Joy McKinnon, dean of technology at George Brown College.

To enter the program, students will need a high school diploma, with at least a 65% average in six required OAC credits, which must include English and Math.

"If they have the appropriate background, the program will start from that very beginning point," McKinnon says. "They're not expected to have any previous background in the construction field."

Diversified careers

Career opportunities for graduates of the program are very diversified, and are available not only in the construction industry, but also in related fields such as land development, building materials, government or any professional firm which services the industry.
George Brown College also announced these new additions:
  • The Mattamy Homes Management Certificate Program -- a new 14-module, management-level certificate program that includes customized courses focused on Mattamy's best business practices and a summer work placement. This program will be offered to students beginning in September 2005.
  • The EdgeBuilder Lab -- an EdgeBuilder Lab, sponsored by EllisDon Corp., has been created that incorporates the construction management work tool into the school's Construction Engineering Program. Students will have exposure to this industry standard tool so they are trained and skilled in its use when they enter the workforce.

  • "When we talk about construction everybody thinks about skilled trades," Harris says. "Everyone thinks about being tied up in traffic and watching guys working at the side of the road. When we're talking about a four-year degree program in construction science and management, we're talking about management people who are looking after the estimating, the logistics management, the project management and the construction management. There's a lot of scope, and a lot of breadth."

    And, Harris adds, the rewards of pursuing a career in construction are plentiful: "You can start as a project manager or project coordinator on the site, and in a few years time, once you have enough experience under your belt, you can run your own company. You can be the boss very quickly. And the pay scales that run beside that are as competitive as they are in any industry, if not better."

    To show their support for the program, a number of leading construction firms, all members of the TCA, will pay half the tuition for 50 first-year students who are accepted.

    The Bachelor of Construction Science and Management program, held at George Brown's Casa Loma campus, will begin accepting applicants immediately and courses will commence in September 2005.

    For more information, visit the website at, or contact program co-ordinator John Wills, at 416-415-5000, extension 4376.

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