Exclusive: Canada BIM Council discuss BIM certification in North America

Credit: Canada BIM Council
Credit: Canada BIM Council

A hot topic across the world in regards to Building Information Modelling is certification – ensuring that individuals and companies can showcase their competency, highlighting relevant capabilities they possess to ultimately lead to winning work.

Whilst the United Kingdom is often viewed as the busiest territory in regards to accrediting the skillsets of professionals and their businesses, what is the certification landscape like in Canada?

Back in October 2014, the Canada BIM Council launched their own certification program, creating a benchmark for AEC industry workers and companies, rewarding them for their level of BIM application and sophistication.

How did that come about, and why did the team think it was necessary? BIMcrunch spoke exclusively with: Pietro Ferrari, CanBIM Director; Allan Partridge, CanBIM President; and Gerry Lattmann, Executive Director.

Discussing the reception of CanBIM’s certification program, Pietro and Gerry told us:

Pietro: “The response to the CanBIM Certification Program for Individuals has been very positive. Members of Canada’s AECOO community are, in increasing numbers, acknowledging CanBIM’s tiered certification program as a benchmark against which to measure the knowledge, skill and experience of the industry’s BIM professionals.

“A testament to this is the fact that in October 2015, a record 43 recipients were presented with CanBIM Certification Certificates – more than double the amount of certifications in the last two rounds combined and the February 2016 certification round is shaping up to meet or exceed the October numbers. Clearly, the CanBIM Certification program is a necessary mechanism to recognize practitioners. A pleasant spin-off of this national program is the interest we have been receiving about the program on an international level.”

Gerry: “Response has been very good. In the first two rounds we had a cumulative total of 22 certification applications. In the most recent round (October 2015), we received 74 submissions, which almost triples the intake from the first two rounds combined. The industry response has been favourable and it further cements our belief that CanBIM is on the right track with regard to benchmarking BIM competency and experience in Canada. Not to mention we are also receiving international interest as well.”

Certification has been criticised by some in the UK, who have seen it as a marketing tool more than a badge to showcase business competence. The CanBIM committee shared their counter argument to that viewpoint, and explained how important certification is to Canadian professionals.

Allan: CanBIM did not arrive at the certification framework overnight nor without significant involvement of our members and a number within academia throughout Canada. Accreditation was first put on our Strategic Plan in June 2011 with the expressed intent to establish meaningful, reliable competency benchmarks within the industry and serve a much broader need. For example, while CanBIM is not interested in setting up a significant training program, our Education & Research Committee did feel that they could use accreditation to connect with academia in particular to provide metrics and evaluations of how BIM uptake is happening within Canada and what the true level of competency is.

We see this is a vital service to help the various institutions fine-tune their programs to fill gaps we might see during the evaluation. Further, the certification program could help the overall industry rely on a base standard knowing such certification, reviewed by a broad spectrum panel can give them peace of mind when looking to not only hire new staff but encourage their existing staff to engage in continuing education programs.

Pietro: “The CanBIM Certification Program recognizes the depth of an individual’s competency – the combined knowledge, skill and experience in BIM, irrespective of discipline. Applied experience is assessed by BIM-industry leaders against industry-benchmarked metrics in determining whether an individual has attained a core set of competencies.

“The CanBIM Certification Program is furthest from a marketing tool. It is a program conceived of, and nurtured by, committed industry leaders whose sole motivation is to ensure a fertile environment for the growth of a BIM-healthy industry. The CanBIM Certification Program remains software-neutral and process-neutral and considers an individual’s acquired knowledge, skill and experience within the BIM collaborative process.

“CanBIM Certification will prove to be the gold standard for benchmarking BIM excellence in Canada. It is so much more than a simple piece of paper with the word “certified” written on it.”

Gerry: I believe that our program for certification is both thorough and meaningful in that the ‘experience’ that a professional has plays a huge role in determining certification with CanBIM. We go to great lengths and detail in the review process, to ensure the experience exists at the various stages of certification.

“We also firmly believe that our certification program will as it becomes more entrenched, assist companies in improving their process and BIM utilization. Our company wide certification program, which we are currently developing will support this idea; as companies look to be proficient in BIM they will be able to verify their experience to clients, partners and other stakeholders. For us it is all about your verifiable experience as a BIM professional.”

For more information, follow the Canada BIM Council on Twitter.

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