FINDING THE WORKERS OF TOMORROW TODAY: THE FUTURE
With the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill in early November 2021, the outlook for the roofing and construction industries could not be brighter. The country is poised to invest a whopping $1 trillion (that’s a one followed by 12 zeros) in roads, bridges, rail, public transit, airports, ports, and community revitalization. Not since the original legislation signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 29, 1956, funding the U.S. Interstate Highway System, have the needs of the construction industry been so front and center. Business will be plentiful but finding the labor to take on the contracts is the real challenge. Now is the time to think strategically about your process for finding and retaining skilled talent.
UTILIZE INDUSTRY SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS
The Georgia Roofing Contractors Association of Georgia (GARCA) and The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) are just two of the state organizations that have programs and resources devoted to helping state roofing businesses find and train the next generation of construction workers. These organizations are working in tandem with each other and business owners to develop sustainable programs and promote the benefits of a career in the skilled trades.
DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS
Whether working through CEFGA, or contacting the schools personally, the local high school has a ready pool of students who want options besides attending college following graduation. Take the time to meet with local Principals, FBLA-PBL Sponsors, and PTSA Executive Board members. These adults have a vested interest in creating opportunities for the students they supervise. Offering structured internships, part-time and summer employment is a great way to fill your labor needs and introduce students to the opportunities available in the construction trades.
CONTACT THE CAREER CENTER OF YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY
Not every community has a two- or four-year institution of higher education; however, if a higher education school exists in your community, this is again a good place to look for labor. College students need part-time and summer jobs, but in addition, students studying business or engineering will appreciate the opportunity to work with an entrepreneurial business owner. The Career Center is always looking to partner with local businesses to create opportunities for students.
The challenge going forward for the roofing and construction industries is to embrace a new model for hiring and retaining skilled labor. Being willing to invest in seemingly unconventional relationships may be all it takes to develop a reliable and consistent workforce for years to come.