Beyond the Skills Gap
What do you want your roofing business and the roofing industry to look like 10 or 20 years from now? If you’re willing to consider this question, and you feel that the fortunes of your business and the industry are tied together, there’s something you can do in 2019 that will make a significant difference in the future.
I believe focusing on building the next generation of roofing workers is the one thing that the industry must focus on to ensure continued growth in the quality of our finished product as well as the sustainability of roofing as a recognized specialty trade. Without tradesmen or tradeswomen, you do not have a trade.
So, the work before you is to establish roofing as a recognized trade, equal to the likes of plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians. Think about what these trades offer their workers: training and certification with a clear career path.
Today’s roofers may be trained by in-house programs or those offered by manufacturers or trade associations. The tribal method of training, however, is still the one employed by many roofing contractors. Properly training workers to install systems that continue to be more varied and complex requires a more organized approach.
You can teach a worker how to do one simple task and he or she will do just fine. If, however, you’re interested in building a skilled tradesperson, you must work with them on training that will yield a skilled roofer capable of independently handling the many tasks that come along in a variety of roofing systems.
You will also be building people who will believe in themselves and their trade. We can’t begin to convince the rest of the world that roofing is a skilled trade unless we believe in our workers and they believe in themselves.
Recognizing the need for elevating the standing of the roofing trade and its workers, National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) CEO Reid Ribble shared his vision of how the roofing industry can train and certify its workers at both the 2017 and 2018 Best of Success conferences.
According to Ribble, the NRCA is committed to building training programs for roofing workers in 19 different disciplines, beginning with the top two roofing systems; asphalt shingles for steep-slope roofing and thermoplastic membranes (primarily TPO/PVC/KEE) for low-slope roofing.
At the same time, but separately, the NRCA is building standards for a third-party certification for roofing workers. The certification program, ProCertification, will be offered to roofing workers who have the experience and knowledge needed to demonstrate their skills to a certified assessor, whether they’ve been trained through NRCA programs or by others.
I believe the NRCA ProCertification program will become the gold standard for roofing tradesman and tradeswomen. I believe consumers of roofing systems will ultimately demand certified roofers for their projects. I also believe this program will only come to fruition if the roofing industry embraces it and supports its workers willing to accept the challenge of being tested by a certified assessor.
This initiative is unprecedented in our industry and monumental, but the investment is being made and the program is being introduced now. You owe it to yourself, your roofing business, and especially the roofers who power your enterprise to learn about this program.