In late 2023, the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP) unveiled its innovative Industrial Coating Application (ICA) training program. According to AMPP, this program offers a flexible and comprehensive solution for training industrial sprayers and abrasive blasters, and it is designed to attract and train those new to the workforce or provide needed training to experienced individuals seeking to gain industry-recognized credentials.
The novel program is designed to be adaptable while ensuring a training experience that suits participants’ needs. Through engaging formats such as hands-on workshops and instructional videos, attendees gain practical skills and knowledge in a dynamic learning environment.
“Unlike our traditional education programs, this is a customizable learning experience that allows the contractor or training provider to customize the learning experience while still earning AMPP recognition,” says Alicia Yust, director of learning and development.
The subscription-based service provides around-the-clock access to essential resources, including student workbooks, hands-on experiences, and presentation materials.
The industrial blaster module focuses on abrasive blasting fundamentals, expediting the learning process for those in training. In contrast, the industrial sprayer module includes a concentrated, hands-on approach to sprayer training, covering areas such as coating fundamentals, receiving and storage, and application techniques.
“The program is designed for success,” says Sara Badami, manager of education operations. “We created this program with two specific audiences in mind after closely listening to our customers’ needs. Contractors can align training with project timelines, meet AMPP Qualification Procedure (QP) training needs, and prepare employees for relevant certifications like C7, C12, and CAS [Coating Application Specialist]. Training providers can establish a partnership with AMPP, set pricing, and play a pivotal role in helping recruit and train those new to the industry.”
Dave Evans, AMPP’s director of business development, spoke with Materials Performance (MP) Magazine to further explain what ICA could mean for members and the industry. Topics include how and why the program was developed; updated features and opportunities to address marketplace needs; and how it may shape future education and training offerings.
Read on for a partial Q&A transcript of that interview, with the complete video podcast embedded below this article.
Q: What are the most important things about this program, relative to what’s been available in the past?
Evans: ICA, I think, is a home run for the industry. It creates a whole new level of flexibility for the contractor. The program is customizable, and it is tremendously schedule friendly. The contractor can teach the course themselves with their own personnel in their shop, or they can do it out on a jobsite if they want to.
It’s modularized, so they can have us one little part of it per week or they can link them together and make it a full-week class or whatever their schedule will allow. It sets a brand-new template for craftworker education for AMPP, globally.
Q: What were some of the limitations of the more traditional education programs? What were the focal points that you were trying to address in making this relevant to what people need, heading into 2024?
The difficulty with the legacy classes is the fact that you’ve got them in a fixed location. Typically, the schedules aren’t flexible, and you’ve got minimum class sizes.
Also, from the contractor’s perspective, with a lack of availability of craftworkers… taking somebody out of the field to send them to a week-long class, at a distant location, is not only expensive monetarily, but it really can put a project behind, from a scheduling standpoint. Imagine if you’re sending multiple people to a single class, or something like that.
ICA’s flexibility really helps redefine that parameter, to where the contractor has complete flexibility and complete control over scheduling modularization, and how the class is taught. Hopefully this sets the tone for development in the future.
Q: What was the development process like?
Evans: The important thing is to make sure that we’re putting the best course that we can out in the marketplace. Development takes a long time, often four-to-five years as a basis, and sometimes longer.
Typically, the idea comes from our membership, and then it flows through AMPP. It flows up to an AMPP education committee, to where a single member can influence the committee. The committee chairman probably assigns it to a task group, which does further investigation to determine whether the idea really does have a fit in the marketplace. ICA did. Then the committee votes on it and decides to move it to the development group within AMPP, and they begin the writing process.
But that’s not the end of the members’ involvement. At that point, the writers’ group develops a class… but all along the way, they have the content checked by SMEs [subject matter experts], and those subject matter experts are mostly members of the organization. All of that is fact checked to make sure that not only is the information correct, but that we’re using the most current available information that is in the industry today. After that’s done, everybody’s happy. It’s all been signed off, and there’s a package put together.
Then, there’s a pilot program, where we actually go and teach the classes in front of groups of students. We look for their feedback as to what thought of the class. Was the information relevant? Was it helpful? There’s a whole bunch of different parameters, and a set of checks and balances. Then, when it gets through the pilot stage, the class is launched, as ICA has been. So, it takes quite a while.
Q: From a membership perspective, how does this reflect what they want and need?
Evans: So far, the feedback has been very, very positive. With any program, when you have a new course launch, you’re going to have some tweaks and little bumps, and things that need to be corrected. That happens with every course. But overall, the feedback has been tremendously positive.
What is really unique with ICA is where some of the feedback is coming from. Traditionally, for courses targeted at craftworkers and contractors, for their educational needs, you’d expect feedback from them.
But we’re also getting feedback from trade schools and from junior colleges that also recognize that there’s a need for craftworker training globally. They’re saying of ICA, can we use this as part of our curriculum? Or do we have to go out and develop our own? Of course, the answer is they absolutely can incorporate this into our curriculum. We work very, very closely with them to help make sure we can.
The feedback doesn’t stop there. The SMEs are your customers. As this is launched to a group of contractors, we still solicit feedback from the contractors and craftworkers themselves. We say, “Okay, what do you like, what don't you like? What do we need to improve?”
It’s asking those kinds of things on a continuous basis. Our continuous feedback model not only helps you tweak the course that you have. It also provides ideas for future courses that you can develop down the road, which can help your craftworkers and contractors with their training needs. You don’t want a product that doesn’t fit in the market.
Q: What markets is ICA potentially applicable to?
Evans: When you take a look at painting steel, that’s where the focus really is. But, it can be in a contractor’s fix shop, if they’re a steel fabricator that’s doing bridge work. It can be in a shipyard, it can be in a pipe shop, it can be anywhere. Literally, it can be out on a jobsite, if you’ve got the capabilities to teach it out there.
Really, it crosses multiple markets, and it applies just about anywhere. In any part of the world, it works. It really does.
Dave Evans made these comments on a recent episode of the Materials Performance (MP) Interview Series. To hear the complete episode, listen below.