In a recent survey conducted by DEWALT, more than half of U.S. contractors say inflation and a lack of skilled labor are causing significant challenges in their businesses.
Roofing contractors are well aware of the struggle of finding competent workers, a problem that has been prevalent well before the COVID-19 pandemic. DEWALT’s survey of 1,000 full-time home and building contractors confirms those concerns, with 55% of respondents saying a lack of skilled workers is one of the biggest barriers to growing their business.
This sentiment rises to 69% among businesses making $10 million-plus in annual revenue, and is at 64% among those with 20 years or more experience.
“The DEWALT Powering the Future Survey sheds further light on the wide-reaching gap in skilled labor and its continued impact on the residential and commercial construction industries,” said Allison Nicolaidis, president, Power Tools Group, Stanley Black & Decker. “Add to that the overwhelming demand for trades expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic and the [skilled-labor] gap is quickly becoming the most critical need that will dictate the future success of the field.”
Complicating the labor issue are additional problems caused in part by the pandemic. Respondents say keeping up with inflation (57%) is the top challenge that U.S. contractors face, followed by funding skilled workers or being understaffed (51%) and working long hours (37%). Of those challenges, however, a vast majority of contractors (93%) say the lack of skilled workers has had at least a minor impact on their work.
Half of those contractors who have had their work impacted by the labor shortage (50%) cite the primary causes for the gap as a lack of awareness around career paths in construction, followed by outside influences (E.G. parents, media) that guide younger people away from pursuing a career in the industry (47%), as well as an underestimation of how much money can be made in the industry (41%).
Nearly half of contractors (48%) identify training the next generation of workers as one of the most critical industry focus areas in 2023 and beyond. Seasoned contractors are particularly committed to training the next generation of workers, with 63% of those in the industry for 20 or more years indicating this is a paramount goal for the future.
In roofing, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is shining a spotlight on the career opportunities available in the industry. Its NRCA ProCertification program gives experienced workers who demonstrate their skills and knowledge a national certification in specific roof system installations. The NRCA is also working on promoting roofing in SkillsUSA — a national event for students to compete in skilled trades competitions — and has partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research to prepare updated roofing curriculum.
“We have spent millions of dollars on workforce, the broader aspect of workforce development, and one of the things we’re trying to focus on is what I call broadening the funnel — trying to get more people to enter this industry, to consider roofing as not a job, but a career,” NRCA CEO McKay Daniels told RC earlier this year.
Other industry associations and companies are working to encourage students to enter the skilled trades. GPS Insight launched a scholarship program this year to give two $10,000 scholarships; SOPREMA gave away four $5,000 scholarships this year; ATAS International sponsored the Greater Lehigh Valley Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls for its sixth year; and the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association and Western States Roofing Contractors Association both granted scholarships to students with the respective programs.
As part of its commitment to empower the next generation of workers, DEWALT has opened the DEWALT Trades Scholarship, which will award students with a $5,000 grant in pursuance of a skilled trade educational program for the 2023-2024 academic year. Visit learnmore.scholarsapply.org/dewalttrade for more information.