In my "Framework for a new workforce" article in Professional Roofing's February 2016 issue, I explored the history of roofing industry labor shortages and recent events that have led to the current workforce crisis. At the time, NRCA's online Career Center was introduced as one tool to help address the current labor shortage, which is different from any labor crisis previously experienced by the roofing industry. For this article, I will present a framework for building a competent, sustainable and high-performing workforce that can help address the current crisis and continue supporting the industry through future economic cycles.
Understanding the issue
The most frequent comment I hear when discussing the current workforce crisis with NRCA members is something like this: "Yes, we need to do more training, and we need to do it now." Unfortunately, every employer has a different understanding about what workforce development is and has different training needs, and few know how to go about doing it effectively. To further fragment the topic, the degree to which employers want to be directly involved in workforce development also varies significantly. Some industry employers prefer to hire workers trained by others; some want to sponsor and host their own training programs; some choose to partner with other local employers and operate their own formal registered apprenticeship training while remaining open-shop employers; and some simply prefer to be signatory to a local union training center.
Whichever approach employers choose, training alone will not build a workforce; it only is one component of the entire human resource function. A training program does not recruit workers though having one helps recruiting efforts. Likewise, it can help retain workers, but it is not an employee-retention program. To further confound things, training often is misconstrued as education, mentoring, coaching and other methods for improving worker performance. Therefore, it may help to define training within a larger framework that uses a human performance technology approach to comprehensive workforce development.