Orlando Roofing Apprentice Program Launched
The roofing industry has been in need of additional workers. Reasons for workforce shortages have varied over the year’s employees who went out on their own, workers who left the state to work in New Orleans after Katrina, an aging workforce moving toward retirement, and those who left the industry during slow economic times. Whatever the reason for the loss, our industry has not been able to completely recover from these challenges.
Roofing is not a trade that usually attracts high school students – the work is hard, temperatures are hot, and roofing is not seen as a viable or professional career choice. Students aren’t informed of a career path in the industry by guidance counselors; instead, they are steered toward a college education or a career in another trade. Let’s face it; roofing isn’t for sissies. Its hard work requires extensive knowledge of the Florida Building Codes and, for those who choose to go further, a two-day state license exam.
In 1982, FRSA established the Educational and Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to develop and implement educational programs throughout the state. In addition, the Foundation also offers scholarships and funds research to benefit the industry. In the mid-1980s, the Foundation offered the PRIDE program – an educational program geared for workers to help increase the knowledge of foremen and superintendents, and to promote roofing as a career option. Many of those who completed the PRIDE program went on to own their own companies and serve as leaders of FRSA.
Unfortunately, with the exception of a few large companies, employee training and education has not been a priority over the years. For the average roofing company, it’s been feast or famine. Contractors were either too busy to lose an employee for a few weeks of training, or too slow to keep employees on the payroll while providing additional education.
Workforce shortage is an industry-wide issue and it will take a lot of effort and substantial resources to rebound and create career paths that lead to successfully trained workers and future industry leaders. FRSA is working on multiple fronts and different levels to offer members a solution. We are partnering and supporting NRCA’s ProCertification program, which, when complete, will focus on 15 different roofing disciplines. NRCA ProCertification provides experienced roofing workers the ability to demonstrate their skills and knowledge and become certified by NRCA in specific roof system installations. Professional certification offers workers the opportunity to take pride in and be recognized for their skills and expertise: the recognition that stays with them throughout their career. The demand for skilled roof system installers is real, and the opportunities are limitless. FRSA’s Educational Foundation is in the final stages of developing a “train the trainer” program where employees will focus on industry-specific issues, codes, safety, and roofing systems, and will be qualified to train others within their own company. We’ve also partnered with Unlimited Path, a re-entry, and vocational service for those transitioning out of prison and preparing to learn a trade. And finally, we’ll be offering the Orlando Roofing Apprenticeship Program in partnership with Associated Builders and Contractors Institute (ABC). Although the roofing-specific portion of the program has already been available in South Florida, the Orlando Apprenticeship program has come to fruition through a partnership of a few dedicated individuals. Thanks to Kevin Kornahrens, Advanced Roofing Inc.; Nicole Eisenhardt, Tecta America Southeast LLC; and Jason Carruth, Advanced Roofing Inc. for bringing the program to us. Over a few short weeks, many others became involved and the first Orlando Roofing Apprenticeship program was launched. With the assistance of Career Source Central Florida, Orange County Public Schools, Associated Builders and Contractors, and Valencia College, a two- week curriculum was developed and funding provided. Five contractor companies, Advanced Roofing Inc., Tecta America Southeast LLC, Collis Roofing, Total Roof Services Corp. and RMS Orlando Inc. committed to sending 18 employees to the first portion of the Orlando program – a two-week, 73-hour commitment. On December 3, the selected employees began their training at Valencia College using the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Curriculum, which covers basic safety, introduction to hand tools and tools of the trade, power tools, basic rigging, introduction to material handling, basic communication skills, employment skills, introduction to construction drawing and math.
The group graduated from Valencia College on December 13, earning a NCCER Core Certification. During graduation, they were given a backpack with tools they will need for a career in the roofing industry compliments of Career Source Central Florida and FRSA.