The metal roofing industry has been steadily growing for some time now. According to a survey conducted by Metal Construction News, contractors reported a 12.3% increase in the square footage of metal roofing installed in 2018 over 2017. New metal roofing manufacturers are continuing to enter the industry as metal roofing is continuing to prove itself as a profitable business. The outlook for demand in metal roofing is strong, but this poses an issue for the metal roofing industry, and that is the growing demand for qualified workers.
Numerous studies and publications have pointed out how many contractor businesses are finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for metal construction, because there simply aren't enough qualified installers. This seems to be an issue across the construction industry, with many sectors of the construction industry facing considerable increases in demand, but without a reciprocal increase in the pool of skilled workers.
So what are some ways the construction industry can address the issue of not having enough skilled workers? Here are seven suggestions to consider.
David Beard, a representative of the Iron Workers International, discussed their apprenticeship program in the June issue of Metal Construction News. Their apprenticeship program offers training to take iron workers from apprentice level to journeymen. Offering apprenticeships with a guarantee of high quality on the job training, leading to higher level positions, can be an effective means for attracting new skilled workers. It is an investment into growing the metal roofing industry’s workforce, but it is one that may prove to pay off well by creating highly skilled workers on the job, instead of waiting for already trained and increasingly rare contractors to come along.
- Career Paths
Creating a clear and well documented career path is another great incentive for bringing in new workers. If workers are given a clear picture of what their future could be in the industry, it will prove to be an effective means for retaining workers and attracting new ones.
- Competitive Wages
With a strong career path laid out, it is also important to offer a competitive wage. If workers feel they can earn more elsewhere, they’ll be more likely to leave. If it however becomes clear that the metal construction industry is a great career option, with attractive earning potential, this will generate greater interest among those considering construction as a trade.
- Reach Out to College Graduates
There seems to often be a feud between trade schooling and college education. Many advocates for learning a skilled trade have come out against college education for various reasons, but the fact is that there is a lot of potential out there among college educated persons who are looking for work. Someone with a college degree in a liberal arts or science field may not pop-out as a potential candidate for metal roofing or metal building construction, but with the right on-the-job training they can prove to be valuable additions to your team. There are also other valuable skills that those with college degrees may have, such as communication skills, language skills, as well as computer and administrative skills. These skills can all come in handy for a construction industry business. Most of all, don’t assume that a liberal arts and sciences degree means someone isn’t willing to get their hands dirty.
- Become a Member of Industry Associations
By getting involved in industry associations, such as the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA) or the Metal Roofing Alliance, you can support education and training initiatives and network with others involved in the industry.
- Support Training at the Secondary Education Level
You may be able to find local efforts for training initiatives in schools, typically at the high school level. Getting involved by donating or volunteering with organizations offering training so high school students can graduate job ready, is a great way to help grow the construction industry workforce.
- Partner with Local and State Training Initiatives
Look for job training initiatives that are funded by local or state governments, and see how you can get involved.
With these suggestions in mind, they should prove to be valuable strategies for growing a strong workforce ready to take on the growing demand in the metal construction industry.
What are some ideas you have for attracting new workers to the construction industry?