One of the most critical needs in the masonry construction industry is for training-both to prepare newcomers and to expand the knowledge and skills of experienced workers. At the International Masonry Institute (IMI), we believe the joint labor/management training approach, applied on a national level, is the best way to fill the industry's pressing training needs. In addition to training, IMI works to advance the masonry industry through promotion, research, and labor/management relations. A NATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM In 1986, IMI launched a centralized, national Trowel Trades Training System designed to serve contractors and workers in all branches of masonry, at all levels. It offers several benefits to the masonry industry: it provides national standards for both the technical knowledge and job skills of masonry craftsmen; improves the portability of worker skills, helping the industry deal with geographic variations in labor supply; assures a high-quality, consistent level of training both from region to region and from year to year; and helps masonry solidify and expand its market position. In this new system, each apprentice receives up to 12 weeks of training before being on the job for the first time. CERTIFIED INSTRUCTORS ARE KEY Instructor training is crucial and instructor certification is key to the Trowel Trades Training System. To become a Certified Instructor of Journeymen and Apprentices in the Trowel Trades, a candidate must complete 160 hours of course work and demonstrate proficiency in technical tasks and teaching skills.