The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 15, 2019

No training accreditation, no problem! ABC celebrates despite awful training record

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

MIDLAND - The Associated Builders and Contractors' Greater Michigan Chapter got together the evening of Nov. 1 at the H Hotel with a "Founders Dinner" to give five anti-union honorees "the full induction in to our ABC Hall of Fame."

The dinner honored past ABC Michigan President Chris Fisher, and four prominent state Republicans who supported or had a hand in passage what the group called "our trifecta of wins": the repeal of the Michigan Prevailing Wage Act, the institution of the state's right-to-work law, and the cancellation of most construction project labor agreements.

As they walked in, the group were greeted outside by supporters of ABC Truth, a union-backed watchdog of the anti-labor contractors group which said its supporters were "out in full force tonight protesting ABC’s fancy dinner gala. They chose to wine and dine themselves while their training program lost their national accreditation and their students suffer. Shame."

Large banners that ABC Truth brought to the dinner played up an Aug. 21, 2019 letter sent to the Jimmy Greene, who recently resigned as president/CEO of the ABC-affiliated Greater Michigan Construction Academy to become CEO & president of the Associated Builders & Contractors, Greater Michigan Chapter. The letter from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, said it voted to deny re-accreditation to the Midland-based academy.

The Greater Michigan Construction Academy, according to its Facebook page, "provides opportunities for career growth in 11 trades within the construction industry through continuing education programs targeting craft workers, foremen, supervisors, project managers and superintendents."

In its accreditation denial, ACCET said the Greater Michigan Construction Academy:

First, "failed to demonstrate that its cancellation and refund policies are written, fair and equitable; are consistently  administered and that they comply with statutory, regulatory and accreditation requirements."

Second, the ACCET said "the institution failed to demonstrate that the facilities at the Lansing, Michigan branch campus are appropriate for the education, training and student services offered, and that instruction was conducted in a safe, accessible, sanitary and comfortable environment conducive to learning. The team report indicated that the Lansing facility only contained one lab, shared by all three programs offered at that location (Plumbing, HVAC, and Electrical), and that the lab was small, crowded, poorly heated, and inadequate for learning."

Third,  ACCET said the Greater Michigan Construction Academy "failed  to  demonstrate  that it  has policies  and  procedures  that  provide  effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate the quality of education and training services provided relative to completion and placement rates. The institution further failed to demonstrate that the number of participants who complete the programs and courses in which they enroll is consistent with the benchmarks established by the Accrediting Commission."

The ACCET previously reported that several GMCA programs "were below benchmark for  completion and placement as of February 2018, that placement documentation was incomplete, and that  the institution’s policies and procedures for tracking and recording completion and placement were inconsistent with ACCET requirements." 

ACCET said the Greater Michigan Construction Academy's response was that owing to the transient nature of skilled tradespeople, "completion is sometimes done at companies outside the prevue (sic) of The Greater Michigan Construction  Academy" and that it "continued to track graduation rates." However, the academy did not include any supporting documentation.

ABC Truth has been pointing out inadequacies in ABC training for years. 

"The Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA), reported in 2018 to their accreditation agency that only 31 students graduated from their evening courses," ABC Truth reported in August. "Total reported enrollment during 2018 was 77 students, which amounts to a graduation rate of 40 percent.

"This information was reported by GMCA to their third party non-governmental accreditation agency. These statistics are in stark contrast to ABC’s own public statements on the supposed success of their training programs. ABC Greater Michigan Chapter CEO, Jimmy Greene, testified to the Michigan State House of Representatives that GMCA’s electrical program had a fourth year completion rate of 98 percent and has claimed enrollment levels as high as 500.

"ABC Truth investigators are unsure why GMCA and Mr. Greene would claim such fantastical numbers when speaking to the media and politicians, while in reality, they had 51 students complete their evening training in 24 months."

In March, ABC Truth released a report that looked back on 16 years of apprenticeship training in Michigan. Among the ABC Truth study's most notable revelations, it showed just how minor a role the ABC plays in training Michigan's construction workforce. ABC Truth found that from 2000 to 2016, more than 40,000 people enrolled in a Michigan-based registered apprenticeship program. Just four percent of these individuals were registered into ABC-related programs.