Each year Roofing Contractor’s editorial team seeks out the roofing industry’s Young Guns — the emerging generation of roofing contractors — to gauge how they view the industry and understand how their unique way of doing business may change things as they take charge. 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with some really-young guns while attending a skills competition produced by SkillsUSA, a national membership organization serving middle-school, high-school, and college/postsecondary students. Members consist of more than 335,000 students and advisors organized into 18,000 chapters in 52 state and territorial associations.

The mission is to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible citizens. SkillsUSA seeks to improve the quality of our nation’s future skilled workforce through the development of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.

In addition to providing workforce students training support, SkillsUSA provides numerous scholarship opportunities for students to advance their training even further. Through its network of local chapters, SkillsUSA provides support for students, teachers, administrators and advisors. Technical schools act as the farm leagues for many industries, including manufacturing, mining, welding, construction and other trades.

To accomplish its mission, SkillsUSA also partners with hundreds of business, industry and labor organizations for financial aid, in-kind contributions and involvement in activities that include the national skills competition.

At this year’s competition in Louisville, students and their advisors were engaged, excited and motivated to win. The competitions included hands-on tests that were skills and knowledge-based.

The only thing missing was anything to do with roofing. Ugh.

There were some shingles on top of the framed construction projects that were built during one of the team competitions, but that was it. None of the major roofing contractors, suppliers or manufacturers were visible in this huge national event.

So what do the other trades (your competitors for the next generation of workers) have that the roofing industry doesn’t? In terms of the SkillsUSA program, they’re simply members and supporters at the local, state, and national levels. They’re engaged with their local middle and high-schools as well as their community and technical colleges.

You may become involved in your area by seeking out worker training programs and offering your assistance. You may want to bring your suppliers in to assist with materials and technical training. Just having the opportunity to speak with a group of trade-school teachers and students will provide immense value as they learn about opportunities in roofing. I hope you’ll consider spending some of your time and resources on this over the next year. You may be meeting your own future.