Sun Apr 14 7:48:05 EDT 2024
Home#OpEdIndustry Education Needs Broader Investment and Participation

Industry Education Needs Broader Investment and Participation

$2.95 a Year for Education Simply Cannot Be Beat!

When the IAFST University set out to create simple and affordable training for the Mortgage Field Services Industry, it took a three prong approach: 1) Ensure affordability — $2.95 per module per year, at the Enterprise level; 2) Ensure that the training would protect Management from employee misclassification claims; and 3) Ensure that the training was federally credentialled with federal funding opportunities. All three items have been accomplished and that is what we will talk about, today. First and foremost, though, IAFST University is not a part of the International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST). It is an independent, educational arm of the IAFST Federation of Labor. The IAFST does not necessarily support the views or opinions of the IAFST University nor the Federation. This was purposefully done in order to rise above the proverbial noise and distractions of the Industry and serve the Clients — financial institutions, GSE’s and US government agencies whom actually define the products — and Labor, the actual boots on the ground, performing the work.

There are only two reasons why wages are so low in our Industry: First, greed, and second a lack of training by and through a dedicated North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the US business economy. Fact of the matter is that Prime Vendors, whether NAMFS members or otherwise, have fought for nearly five decades to avoid a NAICS code for our Industry. The primary reason for this is that without a NAICS code, specific to our Industry, pricing data is unavailable and lump summed together with the generic codes used today. This, in turn, creates a false and fraudulent appearance of propriety by lumping far below minimum wage work — such as the $15 paid for interior and exterior inspections in combination with a full maid service demanded by HUD’s M&M FSM Awardee 24 Asset Management — with legal and legitimate wages under say the NAICS 561720 and 541350. Anyone telling you otherwise is an outright liar.

The legitimacy of any trade or industry is determined by the ability to measure competency by and through education. NAMFS had attempted this when it forcefully — and without proper compensation according to the owner — took over the former Stallion product. The bigger problem, though, was that it was Management focused with hundreds of dollars in billing and no ability to interconnect into the federal accreditation cycle of the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL). Moreover, though, NAMFS is incapable of integrating with the Registered Apprenticeship Programs with the Department of Labor (DoL) which the IAFST University is now doing.

IAFST University is connected into the CTDL as seen here. As seen, IAFST University is eligible to issue a mountain of credentials and is the only one in our Industry legally allowed to, thus far. Building on that we are capable of digitally tracking them, cradle-to-grave, and have invested in the technology to verify them as well as document outdated credentials to issue new testing or continuing education required and display these throughout all aspects of Social Media including on the LinkedIn Licensing pages.

While neither NAMFS nor the IAFST have made any concrete decisions to move forward with training, several smaller Industry firms, including a nonprofit firm, have already begun working on their own work product specific curriculum which IAFST University will begin to host. Our understanding is that the firms deploying the training and testing will marry the results to increased pricing.

The problem with anything that challenges the status quo is bubbles are burst and the central base of power shifts. As previously discussed, with pricing in our Industry far below federal minimum wage, education is not something that anyone wants to discuss. Surprisingly, though, IAFST University is now working with several facilities and property management firms outside of our Industry. Why, you might ask? Legitimate firms, working in regulated industries, have a need for affordable and robust training and testing platforms that are ready on Day One.

What many NAMFS and IAFST Prime Vendors do not seem to want out there is that when you marry a CTDL authorized training process to DoL’s RAP, the financial benefits to Management and Labor; to large and small firms, are astronomical. In addition to the both federal funds and tax credits, RAP participants have access to the following:

    1. U.S. Department of Labor: Federal Workforce Development Funds, including Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Trade Adjustment Act, H1B and Women in Apprenticeship in Non-Traditional Occupations;
    2. U.S. Department of Education: Federal Student Aid Funds, Title IV Student Aid including Pell Grants and Federal Work Study;
    3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: GI Bill® and Veterans Affairs Educational Assistance;
    4. U.S. Department of Agriculture: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education and Training Funds;
    5. U.S. Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration On-the-Job Training and Supportive Services Program; and
    6. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Financial Assistance Programs, amongst others.

Depending on state and local policy, On-the-Job-Training contracts can reimburse employers up to 75 percent of wage rates paid to participants for up to six months. Additionally, On-the-Job-Training contracts can also cover a portion of the supervision and extraordinary training costs associated with overseeing a new apprentice, equivalent to 75 percent of the apprentice’s wage rate. If these two reasons are not enough to incentivize your firm to get involved, chances are that you may be better suited to close your business and become a WalMart greeter.

The larger, untold story here is that many legitimate Industries overlap into our unregulated Industry. For example, inspections. Our Industry only covers a few types and those are specific to residential assets in some form of foreclosure. The HUD 309 inspection pertains to new mobile homes. Today, many of these assets are rolled off the line and upon final assembly, in the field, require a final inspection. They generally pay around $150 and are actually require far less time than the $8 inspections you typically see from NAMFS members. IAFST University already covers those through the MFS Inspector Apprenticeship. Or take the $1 Trillion in defaults potentially coming down, this year, in the commercial real estate sector. Every single one of these CRE assets are going to require an inspection — whether it be for pre-foreclosure purposes or the renewing of senior loans covering the assets.

Whether anyone likes it or not, our Industry is dying. There will always be a couple of nickel and dime jobs out there, in the rural setting, but the reality is with the massive conversion to a W2 setting by Mortgage Contracting Services, by and through their recent purchase of Five Brothers, the writing is on the wall. I stand by my predictions of a near completely controlled institutional environment by the end of the year, when it comes to Prime Vendors — Guardian Asset Management’s parent company, Rithm Capital; MCS’s family of firms controlled by Littlejohn & Co.; and ServiceLink, which is controlled by Black Knight. The outlier of Altisource will probably remain after the recent rebranding of nearly 30+ firms a year or so ago. No other firms have the capital to remain financially solvent. And like it or not, those firms and the hundreds of others whom are performing their own facilities and property management, all require the cookie cutter product that is the same thing, the same way, each and every day. The only way you get there is through training. To that point, those firms will eventually recognize the advantages of CTDL and DoL’s RAP versus WalMart greeters whom believe that Burger King’s model of Have It Your Way is what the Industry is really looking for.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
Off Grid Linux Junkie and Always a Friend of Labor!


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