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Expert Interview Series: Peter Sfraga of zackacademy.com on the Benefits of Advanced Vocational Training for Contractors

Training for contractors

Peter Sfraga is the Marketing Manager for Zack Academy, where he oversees all digital and print marketing efforts.

We recently asked Peter about the benefits of vocational training for contractors and about what types of classes would be most pertinent to their work. Here’s what he had to say:

What is the mission of Zack Academy? How did you become interested in offering vocational training?

Zack Academy’s mission is to empower individuals and organizations through accessible education and skills training. In 2009, Zachary Rose started the company as a sustainability training consultant. He found that there was a large disconnect in the professional training industry between students who needed training, and the local educators providing it, so he developed an online marketplace to aggregate course offerings and bridge that gap. Zack Academy now partners with hundreds of local and online training providers across the U.S..

What are the most popular classes you’re offering right now? What subjects are students most interested in?

Our most popular class, the Lead Renovator RRP Certification, is focused on lead paint safety during renovations of older homes, which is one of the leading causes of childhood lead poisoning. Contractors and painters are typically required to attend this class by the EPA or their state before starting this type of work given the risks involved, but we also see many homeowners or property owners attending as well.

We’ve also seen an increased interest in flood and water damage restoration courses given some of the natural disasters that have occurred recently. Participants learn how to restore a building to its pre-loss state, and it’s a valuable service that can have a real impact in rebuilding these affected communities after a flood.

What are the benefits of vocational training for contractors?

By participating in additional training programs, contractors can grow their list of services they can offer to their clients, expanding their business into new areas. Especially for contractors, there are many regulations and safety requirements that require them to be properly trained and certified before advertising certain types of services, such as lead or asbestos inspection or removal. Of course, there are other courses that are not required. We’ve found students that take these courses have a better understanding of the industry and how to maintain a safe work environment for themselves and their community.

What types of additional training should professional contractors consider?

There are the obvious classes for lead paint, asbestos, OSHA training and general safety courses, but many of our students are residential contractors that own or work for small businesses. Because of this, we believe our students should consider some small business training so we offer soft skill classes including digital marketing, social media, finance, management, general computer training, and other related topics that can really help contractors grow and maintain their business.

How are online classes for vocational skills typically taught?

Our online classes are offered in several different formats; some are live webinars where an instructor is virtually conducting class just like an in-person training; others are on-demand, so the student will view content including presentations, videos and quizzes online at their own pace. Both options have proven successful!

What are the advantages of taking online classes? What about disadvantages?

The main advantage to online training is accessibility, though cost can sometimes play a role as well, depending on the class. We’ve found students enjoy online training when the class is set up in a seamless, simple manner and they can complete from their home or office on their own schedule.

The disadvantages come into play if you are more of a hands-on learner. Some students simply prefer the classroom atmosphere and the opportunity to converse with their instructor. Of course, if that’s the case we typically offer the same or similar course in-person!

What are best practices for students to make sure they get the most out of their classes?

Taking the topics seriously is probably the first step. Many of our classes focus on lead, asbestos, mold and other hazards that are legitimately life threatening if not handled properly. Students that attend our classes in earnest and a desire to learn typically gain the most and are much better off in the long run, especially because homeowners are more educated and expect well-informed answers to questions that involve their health or safety.

Interested in acquiring some new skills? Enroll now in ICA’s Home Inspection Training.

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