New Orleans, La.—Time doesn't stand still, incoming Canadian Construction Association (CCA) chair Gilbert Brulotte states in his 2016 chair's message that was featured in the association's National Voice annual review.
As such, it's important for the construction industry to promote its successes, mentor the next generation and embrace the changes happening now and in the future.
"It's the contribution that the industry makes to the quality of life for the general public. We're a humble, quiet industry, so how do we improve public awareness?" explains Brulotte, senior vice-president, civil division with EllisDon Corp. in an interview with the Daily Commercial News. "Part of that goal is to attract entrants to the industry...there are great careers."
Brulotte, a civil engineer who graduated from the University of Alberta in 1972, says he was first employed doing work in the public sector, mainly for Alberta.
"I started basically in the provincial and federal arena, but in the construction side, so building highways, airports, facilities, those types of things," he says, adding he was recruited by the private sector in 1977. "I started my career in construction as an estimator and progressed all the way to senior management."
He says he hopes to continue to mentor others and has made the promotion of CCA educational activities and standards a focal point for his time as chair.
"What's allowed me to spend time, volunteer and give back to the industry is that I was able to create a position with EllisDon where to a large extent my role is strategic — mentoring and guiding the people behind me through assessing facts and making decisions," he says.
It's important to ensure the sector stays strong by investing in the next generation, Brulotte explains, making sure they are properly selected, trained, prepared and retained.
"We're trying to create an industry of choice," he says, adding over the years the "message is (and has been) the same, but how you deliver it becomes more critical."
Technological changes, increased foreign competition and changing practices are challenges the industry is facing. But if investment is made in the right individuals "we can rest assured that their generation will succeed."
He says the CCA is well on its way to addressing these challenges by working with partner associations to develop educational products and services. The Lean Construction Institute — Canada, the Institute for BIM in Canada, Canadian Construction Innovations and the taskforce on corporate social responsibility are all examples and measures the association has taken.
The CCA is also working with BuildForce Canada on the development of a construction industry ethics course, which is designed to teach best practices and ethical guidelines.
"When you come to the industry and you come to the people in the business...ethical behaviour, quite often, is deemed to be what is the normal practice. The norm in what may be deemed to be ethical is an important norm, but may clash with the grassroots Canadian values," Brulotte explains, adding the course will provide scenarios to learn from and will help set a benchmark as to what are good practices. "At what point do you cross the line to being on the ethical side to what we would perceive as being unethical? There's some examples and we encourage a classroom setting so that there's some discussion."
Brulotte also states the CCA is continuing to invest in the Gold Seal Certification program as a way to celebrate excellence in the industry and reaffirm professional practices.
When asked how he felt assuming the role as CCA chair, Brulotte said. "It's humbling. It's not everybody who has the opportunity. I've had a great career that's spanned most of Canada and I've got great rewards from being in the industry.
"It's great to win bids, but when you impact your surroundings by just providing an awareness, helping somebody through a decision, through a different way of looking in the ball...those are the rewards. This is kind of my way of being able to give back to an industry that is so critical to our well-being and has really been instrumental in my personal success."