As I was saying …

The return of the work force problem

Until about 2008, NRCA members consistently described the work force as their most significant business problem. It was increasingly difficult to find workers at every level, but it especially was difficult to find entry-level workers.

We now have learned a recession and eruption of government regulation can change priorities in a hurry. But as the industry continues to recover, the work force issue will return, I'm afraid, and be worse than ever.

The principal problem is demographics. The U.S. work force is aging: The average construction industry worker is older than 40, and the average new apprentice roofing worker is older than 30.

But we also have a behavioral problem. A study conducted for The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress by The Gallup Organization concluded roofing workers enter the trade because they like the challenge of building things; they like working as part of a team; they like knowing they will learn a skill; and they expect there will be a relatively straight-line career path for them to follow.