Learning to rebuild

Worker training initiatives could help combat work force shortages

In 2005, the U.S. experienced the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history. One of the seven major hurricanes that occurred that year was Hurricane Katrina, which caused an estimated $81 billion in damages and was directly responsible for 1,500 deaths. The costliest hurricane in U.S. history, Katrina forced an estimated half-million people in the New Orleans area to leave their homes and seek shelter in other cities.

Although the rebuilding effort has faced significant challenges, those living in the Gulf Coast region have not lost hope and rebuilding continues. And though the waters that flooded so many neighborhoods have receded, a different barrier now threatens to slow rebuilding efforts: the region's significant shortage of skilled construction workers.

The desire to rehabilitate the Gulf Coast coupled with the region's labor shortage has spawned numerous initiatives focused on training those interested in becoming construction workers. These initiatives, which consist of partnerships between various organizations and local community and technical colleges, aim to help revive the region by rebuilding its work force.

During a time when the roofing industry is facing its own work force shortage, this type of worker training initiative could not only help rebuild regions devastated by natural disasters but also become an important asset for many roofing contracting companies throughout the U.S.