How the Roofing Industry Can Combat the Labor Shortage Issue Part 1

The majority of roofing companies recognize that they are facing a significant skills shortage. With more business opportunities and profitability in roofing than ever before, many employers in the industry are struggling to find qualified professionals to meet the demand. In fact, despite the unemployment rate falling below four percent in April 2019, there are reportedly millions of jobs to fill in industries like roofing and construction. As a result, roofing companies are forced to either turn down work or develop new strategies to solve the problem. In some cases, retaining talented workers is more challenging as the demand for these skilled roofing professionals is at an all-time high.   

In this four-part article, members of Roofing Alliance, the Foundation of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), will discuss the primary reasons why this increasingly difficult trend continues in roofing. We will also discuss ways that roofing businesses can recruit and retain young talent. Lastly, we will discuss several roofing training and roofing education initiatives that the Roofing Alliance is committed to in order to combat the increasingly dire labor shortage issue. For information on membership opportunities devoted to advancing the roofing industry, contact the Roofing Alliance today.

The Challenges 

There are a myriad of reasons why a labor shortage exists in roofing. Here are some common causes that have resulted in the skilled labor gap:

  • Less Training Opportunities: Over the last 40 years, union memberships and apprenticeships have dramatically declined resulting in a weaker infrastructure for instituting training initiatives for young workers. With fewer opportunities through unions and less on-the-job training, a significant skills gap presently exists.    
  • The Great Recession: During a difficult economic time in 2008 when the housing market collapsed, a significant amount of roofing and construction businesses suffered, leaving a large number roofing professionals out of work, retired, or transitioned to a new career. Many of these workers never returned to the industry. 
  • Not Appealing: A common misconception among millennials is that roofing and construction jobs are considered a last resort in terms of viable careers. Many young professionals are either unaware of the lucrative opportunities to work in roofing or would prefer to work in “white collar” occupations. In the second part of this article, we will discuss a few recruitment techniques to peak the interest of the next generation of roofers.  
  • Education Shift: As high schools have shifted their focus on course curriculum that prepares students for a four-year degree, shop classes and vocational education opportunities have become the victim of budget cuts by the majority of high schools. In parts three and four of this article, we will discuss ways the Roofing Alliance is bolstering education and training opportunities in roofing.       

Membership opportunities with the Roofing Alliance are available to all roofing professionals. For more information on our organization’s objectives or how you can make a commitment to the Roofing Alliance, please contact us today.