The State Transportation Innovation Council's (STIC) Certified Concrete Finishers Course innovation reached an important milestone in April 2022 when PennDOT adopted a specification change to include the certification requirement on all PennDOT projects. With this change, contractors are required to ensure that 60 percent of their crews are certified to meet the new specification.
The goal of the certification course, which includes classroom and practical, hands-on work, is to help improve the durability and extend the service life of concrete and eliminate mistakes in concrete finishing that can result in costly repairs or reconstruction. Once completed, the course leads to lifetime certification.
Since 2019, nearly 1,600 Pennsylvania concrete finishers completed either the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) or American Concrete Institute (ACI) certification programs, making Pennsylvania first in the nation with finishers who have received the NRMCA lifetime certification. These finishers now meet the requirements for PennDOT projects let after April of this year.
In total, the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA) conducted 80 of these certification classes across the commonwealth. PACA conducted 52 of these classes since the first of the year, which trained more than 800 individuals. In addition, all 11 PennDOT engineering districts conducted inspector training for construction inspection personnel during each district's winter school.
An equally important, if not the most important, aspect of this initiative has been its role in providing meaningful workforce development to the state's construction trade personnel.
"With the NRMCA certification requiring a hands-on concrete placement portion, these sessions have shown time and time again to be a unique opportunity for senior finishers to help instruct, mentor and train those newer to the industry," said Innovation Owner Jim Casilio, who serves as PACA's director of Technical Services "Bringing together the experienced and the new in an educational setting away from an active project site was a fantastic, unexpected program outcome."