FINDING THE WORKERS OF TOMORROW TODAY: THE OVERVIEW
You’ve tweaked your website. You’ve activated referral apps. You have great reviews on Google, Yelp, and social media. Business opportunities are flowing in, and you are ready to book roofing job after roofing job. And then. You evaluate your crews and realize you don’t have enough skilled labor to book the jobs available. It’s not just the roofing industry having trouble finding qualified workers. According to a recent article published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “almost all (92%) contractors report some level of difficulty finding skilled workers, but this quarter [third quarter 2021], 55% indicate high levels of difficulty—a jump of 10 percentage points from Q2” (see link below for full article). The challenge of finding skilled, qualified labor is THE challenge for commercial contractors going forward. This three-part series will attempt to address solutions that roofing contractors can utilize today to begin to build a reliable workforce for the future.
One potentially overlooked source for tomorrow’s labor force is the local high school. It is a much-observed phenomenon that high school’s have successfully promoted the idea of college attendance following graduation. However, for those students who do not want to attend college following graduation, choices have seemingly become limited. These students need viable options. Options which the roofing industry can supply today.
WHAT A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HIGH SCHOOL OFFERS YOU
Developing an on-going relationship with your local high schools (remember to always reach out to ALL the high schools in your county), guarantees benefits for years to come. Here are just a few of the advantages you can expect.
- A continual pipeline of quality labor. High School students are always looking for part-time and summer work. Fostering relationships with students through part-time opportunities and summer employment will give you a reliable pool of contacts to call on as you add members and jobs to your crews.
- A continual pipeline of front office workers. Many high school students have entrepreneurial interests. Mentoring students in sales, customer service, bookkeeping, payroll and reporting protocols not only gives you additional clerical help but gives students real experience with the day-to-day requirements of owning a business.
- Generational relationships. Students have younger siblings. Once you have established positive, mutually beneficial working relationships with students, you automatically become a trusted source for employing younger siblings.
- Referral partners. A positive working relationship with students and their families creates new referral partners for your business. Families will be quick to refer your business to their friends and neighbors.
WHAT A RELATIONSHIP WITH A PROFESSIONAL ROOFING COMPANY OFFERS STUDENTS
Increasingly, students who do not want to proceed immediately, or at all to college, are left with few viable options. Here are some talking points to share with students and their families as you explain the advantages of working with a professional roofing company.
- Part-time and Summer Employment. High school students want jobs that offer good pay and good experience. Working with a professional roofing company can offer students training in basic skills that they can transfer to other fields, for example, working in general construction or with contractors.
- Customer Service and Sales Training. For those students who do not want to work in the field, working in the offices of a professional roofing company can offer them training in how to communicate effectively with the public, as well as, understanding and completing basic administrative office tasks. Again, these are real world skills that students can transfer to a variety of other industries.
- Resumes and College Applications. The pressure on students to excel is real. Students are always looking for ways to set themselves apart. Working with a professional roofing company as part of an internship program or longer-term employment gives them real experience and real professional references that they can utilize for their own resumes and / or college applications.
Creating a working relationship with local high schools will take time. High schools have a legal responsibility to vet and screen all individuals and organizations that will have access to minor students. However, there are already organizations who have established programs with local schools which you can utilize to get your name out to students and families. A discussion of organizations on the ground is the subject of the next article in the series, “Finding the Workers of Tomorrow Today: The Process.”
“New Report Finds Construction Contractors Struggling to Find Workers, Materials” by Thaddeus Swanek