Foremen Development Program Equips Craft Workers with Skills to Lead Teams

Building Better Builders: DPR Fosters Careers in the Field for Foremen
A man stands in a small conference room talking and gesturing to a group of people seated around tables.

Leadership training often conjures images of office-based workers going to seminars, but with thousands of employees in the trades and a commitment to building careers for those team members, DPR is making sure that leadership skills hit a key group, foremen, with a goal of fostering careers in the trades to truly change what the industry can be.

As a step toward that goal, DPR created a program to ensure its employees have the leadership skills necessary to build for the future. Enter DPR’s Foremen Development program: an in-house course that was created to equip its foremen with training from experienced DPR builders that is tailored to the DPR way of working. Students graduate with skills that will help them lead teams to meet the high quality and safety standards expected on its jobsites.

"While most new foremen have been promoted due in part to mastery of their trades, few have received any type of training on how to lead crews and motivate them to do their best work,” said Will Sheane, a DPR people practices project manager who has been heavily involved in getting the program up and running. This course aims to fill that gap.

Foremen Development: Providing Tools for Leadership

DPR foremen play a critical role on jobsites, not only in project delivery, but also in developing fellow builders. Supporting foremen in understanding their roles and providing tools they can use to lead their teams is a key priority. DPR’s Foremen Development Program meets this need and is offered in either English or Spanish. It is a paid, week-long training program delivered in four modules and includes DPR culture, leadership skills, safety and project planning.

“Elevating our craft is a big part of how we measure success,” said Sheane, “It’s an investment in their future that is provided at zero cost to the employee while being paid their regular wage for training.”

A recent graduate of the program, Bryce Castro grew up around jobsites with his contractor father and got into the drywall trade for smaller companies in 2010. He started his DPR career in 2014 as an apprentice on a drywall crew. “DPR is awesome. They promote from within if you do a great job,” said Castro. After serving four years as a foreman, he participated in the program and has now been promoted to interior superintendent. “This isn’t even just foremen training. This is an all-around, any type of leadership in the field training. It was great.”

Castro was tapped by local DPR field leadership in Southern California to attend the weeklong Foremen Development Program. “I didn’t know how they would fill a whole week, but I was blown away by the information and leadership skills we got. And I could also see it in everyone around me. I watched a lot of people change from Monday morning to Friday morning, to better understand our culture and how we go about things,” said Castro.

“It was very culture driven, with the expectation that we lead by example,” Castro added. “There was a day that was just about communication. They gave me a notebook, and I filled the whole thing up completely with notes. That day was unbelievable. It let me know different ways of communication. To be honest, it’s done wonders for my career since then. And I’ve even used it in my home life, my family life.”

A man gestures and talks at the front of a small conference room with two informational screens and three others behind him.

Course Specifics

The course brings foremen from around the country together for an immersive experience. Offered at no cost to the employee and certified by NCCER, participants receive a Fundamentals of Crew Leadership accreditation that is recognized industry-wide upon completion. They also create a broader network of colleagues from around the country as they spend time with key leaders, including senior superintendents and project managers, with a view to creating greater confidence in decision making on the job, new leadership and planning skills, and a better understanding of DPR values and culture.

“The biggest things I got out of the program were communication and ownership—ownership of my mistakes and how I train others,” said Castro. “Now rather than just explain something to someone, I check that it makes sense to them. I follow up on my communication and do status checks after the initial conversation.”

Like DPR’s Craft Apprenticeship Program, Foremen Development is broken into different modules, including business structures and leadership, and also touches on field skills such as scheduling.

“It was very well planned out,” noted Castro. “Once you finished each module, it really tied in well to the next one. The speakers were leaders, but also people from the field, and they were amazing. The people teaching the modules were mainly superintendents who came from the field just like we did. Hearing various perspectives and seeing both sides—field and office—definitely helped,” said Castro.

A man points to text on a whiteboard while others look on.
The course brings foremen from around the country together for an immersive experience that is certified by NCCER. Participants receive a Fundamentals of Crew Leadership accreditation that is recognized industry-wide upon completion. Photo: Gina Piscitelli

Looking Toward the Future

DPR conducted a survey of participants in the Foremen Development Program with more than 95% of participants surveyed saying they have a better understanding of their role as a foreman. 100% of participants agreed that the program will help them be successful in their role and would recommend the program to others.

“There’s always something to work on, something to learn,” said Castro. “DPR is a very client-driven company. We’re not just trying to knock out projects as fast as we can and move on to the next one. We build relationships with our clients.”

As industries prepare for the future, investing in and empowering their labor force is a key priority not only for team members, but for overall industry success. DPR aims to get ahead of the curve by elevating its workforce and giving leaders the tools they need to build great things.

A smiling craft member in the elevator of a construction site

As one of the nation’s largest self-performing general contractors, the talents and dedication of our craftspeople are the foundation of DPR’s success.

Join the Team