Training and Education for the Stone Industry
by Frederick M. Hueston
Many industries have formal training programs where you can learn the trade. There are programs for general contractors, electricians, plumbers, carpenters etc. Many of these classes are offered by community and technical colleges. What about the stone Industry? Where does one go to learn how to install, fabricate or restore stone?
A little History
The stone industry has really never had any formal training programs in the past. All the training was done on the job. There were lecture based short seminars that were offered at trade shows and expos but these were very generic and did not provide hands on training.
In 1991 the first formal training program was developed by Fred Hueston, who founded The National Training Center for Stone & Masonry Trades(NTC). This first class incorporated lecture as well as actual hands on training. The course was outlined and developed as if it were developed for a trade school or college.
Today, many others offer training programs, however these programs are sponsored and presented by distributors and suppliers who have an interest in selling their products. There is still useful information to learn from these courses but one must be careful and beware of a sales pitch.
When choosing a training course you want to make sure that the instructors are experienced in their respected craft. While experience is critical the instructor must also have the ability to teach. I have seen many instructors and presenters in this industry that like to hear themselves talk and have little or no concern as to weather you are learning the material.
All too often instructors do not have their facts straight and will make up facts. I have seen this many times. A good instructor will make sure to point out facts, back them up with proof. If an opinion is offered it will be clear that it is an opinion.
Types of Training
There are several ways to receive training and many methods. The following will explore these methods.
Lecture is the most popular training. This is where the instructors gets up in front of a group and presents. He/she may use power point, slides, flip charts,video, etc to emphasis points. This is the method of presentation that you will see at trade shows and expos.
The advantage of lecture methods is that a lot of information can be presented. The disadvantage is that the student will rarely absorb all this information. This is why it is important to have all the information presented in hand outs etc. Another disadvantage is that adults can bored easily.
Hands on training is perhaps the best way to learn any of the stone trades. This is where the student actually gets to work with the tools etc. One must be careful when looking at training programs that advertise Hands On. If the instructor is doing all the work and only demonstrating the techniques and not allowing the students to perform the tasks, this is not hands on. A true hands on class will allow you to not only work with the tools but to have time to practice the techniques etc.
With the advent of the Internet, there is now training that can be taken online. This type of training was first offered by Fred Hueston of Stone University. The training is similar to the lecture method. The advantage is that all the lessons can be recorded and viewed again and again. The disadvantage is that it does not offer hands on.
Training is a continual process. The best business owners and craftsman know that they have to continue to be updated with new techniques and methods.
For further information on training visit stoneuniversity.org or ntc-stone.com
Here are some other great training resources where there is no product sales:
Natural Stone Restoration Alliance www.nsraweb.com
Stone Fabricators Alliance www.stoneadvise.com