Training for skills and success
NRCA's Job Corps program will bring more trained roofing workers to the industry
by Karen Kane
Maintaining a qualified, skilled work force has been a struggle for many roofing contractors. And to address the issue, NRCA recently has taken steps aimed at increasing the number of trained, entry-level roofing workers.
On Feb. 13, NRCA and the Delaware Valley Job Corps, Callicoon, N.Y., entered into an agreement to create the NRCA/Job Corps Roofing Training Program, a program that will provide disadvantaged youths with roofing training. The program's objective is to provide students with quality training that will meet the industry's needs and lead to full-time employment with NRCA contractor members.
NRCA became involved with Job Corps because various organizations requested an entry-level roofing training program. NRCA learned the American Fence Association has a training program with the Glenmont Job Corps Center, Glenmont, N.Y., and realized it could create a similar program.
The Delaware Valley Job Corps Center opened in 1979 and currently serves about 600 students per year. Students attending the center predominantly are from New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their average age is 19, and about 13 percent have high-school diplomas. Students attending the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center can learn a vocational skill in one of 12 trades, earn a General Education Degree (GED), attend college, and participate in job shadowing and internship programs with local employers.
Job Corps history
The Job Corps program, which is funded and operated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, was established as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. A major program objective is to ensure students receive training for occupations that provide career development; wages that allow them to live comfortably; and long-term labor market attachment.
The program provides educational, vocational and social skills training to disadvantaged youths aged 16 to 24. Job Corps annually trains more than 60,000 students at 119 centers with a center in almost every state. Job Corps is the nationís largest, most comprehensive residential education and job training program (all students live at the center while enrolled in the program).
About 66.5 percent of Job Corps students obtain meaningful employment after graduation, and 16.4 percent further their education or receive additional training. If a program is not successful and does not place students in meaningful employment, the program is cancelled and replaced with another program that can use the funds.
Since 1964, Job Corps has provided more than 1.7 million disadvantaged youths with the integrated academic, vocational and social skills training necessary to obtain quality, long-term jobs or further their education. For more information about Job Corps requirements and student activities and curriculum, see "A day in the life."
Job Corps considers the roofing program to be the equivalent of a $24,000 scholarship, and the first NRCA/Job Corps Roofing Training Program is scheduled to begin in July. During orientation, students will work with counselors to learn about careers offered at the center and determine what programs they would like to enter. Students interested in roofing work will be trained at the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center and select school-to-work sites in the center's surrounding area and near a student's home. If a work site is near a studentís home, students are allowed to stay with their families during training.
Only qualified students will be assigned to the roofing program. Not all students who apply will be admitted into the program. For example, if a student has an extreme fear of heights, he would not be considered a good candidate for the program.
Student enrollment dates will depend on program openings as opposed to fixed start dates. The program is self-paced, so students determine their start and finish times.
Curriculum will be agreed upon by NRCA and the Delaware Valley Job Corps before implementation. Job Corps and NRCA already have jointly prepared a Training Achievement Record (TAR) to ensure students learn the skills needed to secure meaningful employment in the roofing industry. TAR is a list of skills or activities students must learn during the program. Instructors will grade students on a three-point scale for each TAR item. Once all TAR items are completed, students graduate from the program. TAR clearly will indicate each skill required and provide documentation certifying students' skill attainment.
The roofing technician program will have a 1-15 teacher-to-student ratio. Instructors must have roofing backgrounds, as well as experience in educating. Instructors must have at least five years' roofing supervisory experience and attend NRCA educational programs, such as its Train-the-Trainer course or Roofing Industry Educational Institute programs. Job Corps will recruit and hire instructors who are approved by NRCA.
Students' coursework will include GED completion (if needed); applied academics, such as mathematics, reading and writing; and school- and work-based learning. Academic training will be strongly supported by terms, concepts and practical applications used in the roofing industry. During their academic training cycles, students will be placed in a six-week, school-to-work program to receive a portion of their training, refine their skills and gain exposure to shop conditions. Near the end of the academic training cycle, students will be placed in a six-week, skill-demonstration program in which they will work with contractors and use the skills they have learned.
Students also must become certified in employability skills, which include dressing appropriately for work; being on time; responding to supervision; following directions; listening effectively; asking for clarification; explaining procedures; taking initiative; satisfying customers; working in teams; working harmoniously with people of diverse races, sexes, ages, abilities and cultures; troubleshooting and problem solving; and accessing and using information in manuals and on computers.
A maximum of 15 students can be trained at one time. Although NRCA does not have any attendance goal requirements, 15 students ideally will receive roofing training in the morning and attend educational courses in the afternoon, while 15 other students will attend educational courses in the morning and be trained in the afternoon. Training will last from six to 12 months depending on a student's entrance skills and learning pace. Training will be individualized with some group activities when possible.
Students completing training will be certified as Roofing Helpers (Level I) or Roof Mechanics (Level II) by the NRCA/Job Corps Roofing Training Program. This certification will be recognized by NRCA contractor members.
Job placement assistance will be provided by Job Corps. NRCA will provide the Job Corps center with an updated list of job opportunities available with NRCA-member contractors. Initially, the list only will include East Coast job opportunities. If students are interested in working in a different part of the United States, NRCA will assist them with job placement at NRCA-member companies. Students nearing graduation will be strongly encouraged to apply for these positions though a student's job placement will be mutually agreed upon by the student and employer.
NRCA encourages members to donate or loan equipment to the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center for the program and notify NRCA if they are interested in hiring a Job Corps student. NRCA will provide training materials, such as its Roof Application Training Program modules, and other items that will teach students various aspects of roofing work. Job Corps will provide students with the tools needed during their training and make arrangements for students to obtain tools required for employment when they complete the program.
Job Corps' goal is for students to achieve meaningful, long-term employment. This goal is achieved by helping students attain high-school diplomas or GEDs, successfully complete work-based internships, master a vocational skill and learn work ethics.
For more information about the Job Corps program, contact me at (847) 299-9070, Ext. 228; fax (847) 299-1183; or e-mail email@example.com. Or visit Job Corps' Web site at www.jobcorps.org.
Karen Kane is NRCA's director of contractor management programs.
A day in the life
Job Corps recruits students through grassroots efforts, and Job Corps' Admission and Outreach Counselors recruit and screen applicants in their areas. Upon a student's arrival at a Job Corps center, he completes a two-week orientation and exploration program. During this time, students receive medical evaluations and are screened for illegal drug use. Students who test positive for illegal substances will be placed on probation, enrolled in the center's Alcohol and Other Drugs of Abuse Program and retested near the end of their probationary periods. Students who test positive again must leave the program. Job Corps also requires students to sign a statement agreeing not to engage in violent behavior.
Staff members assign rooms to students in one of two orientation dormitories, and student aides help students adjust to the group living setting. During the first week, students learn about center life through a series of presentations. During their second week, students explore the training offered at the center and complete an inventory of interests, attitudes and preferences to assist them in choosing their careers.
Classes begin the third week. Students follow a course schedule that may include reading, mathematics, health, social skills, pre-General Education Development (GED) and GED courses. Because each student's needs are different, student schedules vary by content and subject emphasis. The center uses the Test of Adult Basic Education to determine reading and mathematics competencies.
Residential living provides a dormitory lifestyle for students. All students attending the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center are residentialthey live at the center while enrolled in the program. Each dormitory wing has a residential adviser to help students develop independent living skills they will need to complete the program. Students may obtain a weekend pass to go home and accumulate leave time that can be used to take breaks from their training.
After completing daily training, students may participate in a variety of recreational activities or return to the dormitories to study or socialize. Recreation facilities include a full-size gymnasium that can be used for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and aerobics An arts and crafts center is located in the gym's basement. The center provides students with opportunities to play pool and pingpong and listen to music provided by the Delaware Valley DJ club. A student store also is available.
Off-center recreation trips usually are available on weekends and include roller skating, sporting events and shopping. The Delaware Valley Job Corps Center also has softball, basketball, soccer and flag football teams that compete with surrounding Job Corps centers.
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