Tag: <span>labor</span>

Safety bonus encourages crews to stay compliant

RT3 member Ken Kelly says that Kelly Roofing is vigilant and forward-thinking in its safety program.

Before any employee is released to work, they must attend our boot camp. This two-hour training is comprised of more than just safety, but safety is a primary focus. This stems from a story a friend of mine relayed that happened to him years ago. As a roofer in Nashville, a crew was working remotely in Knoxville. The crew showed up on the job and realized the tear-off was more difficult that they thought. To help stay on schedule, the foreman went to the local Home Depot and picked up day laborers to help the crew. The very first morning of job start, the crew and new laborers met on the flat roof to discuss staging and project planning. While they were all standing in a circle, one of the new laborers slowly stepped backward. Before anyone could say “watch out”, he stepped right off the roof. His death was instant. The foreman called my friend to tell him what had happened. As my friend was racing from Nashville to Knoxville, the one thing that kept going through his mind was, “I don’t even know his name. I don’t know his family. Who am I going to call? What am I going to do?”

Our program approaches safety from three angles:

Reward: We offer a 6% safety bonus on all jobs. This bonus is shared by the crew, not just individuals. It’s the crew’s to share and is based on the total pay for the crew’s job performance, which is often hundreds of dollars. All safety equipment is provided to the crew. Inspections are performed daily before use. Any defective or worn items are tagged, taken out of service and a replacement is given. We train weekly on safety, which is mandatory.

Penalty: Individuals go through a gradual enforcement step-up in severity that resets after six months. We start by a verbal warning, which is actually tracked in our HR entity under the employee’s record as a safety violation. The second offense is a formal written warning. The violation, corrective action and cure steps are noted. It is signed by the employee and supervisor. Next is the first fine of $50, which is written as well. Then a $150 fine is assessed if the violation continues followed by suspension for the day. Lastly, termination is required if the employee continues to refuse compliance. Furthermore, safety meetings are mandatory. Attendance pays for the hour. However, if missed, a $35 fine is issues.

Cultural: By sharing the safety bonus between the crew, it creates a culture of self-policing. When near misses or injuries do occur the individual affected is brought up front to share their story about the incident. They discuss what they were doing, what happened, how it affected their life and the lives of their family. And they always finish with what they could have done to prevent it. This helps overcome the macho mentality that is common in dominant male and Latino workforces.

If you have questions about our program or would like to discuss strategies we have used, please email me Ken@KellyRoofing.com.

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Campaign seeks to reach Generation Z regarding construction careers

The Build California campaign launched in September and uses marketing, public relations and outreach efforts to inform young people about the lucrative, long-term benefits of careers in California’s construction industry, according to www.constructiondive.com. The group’s interactive website was designed to urge high school and college-age Californians—and their parents—to consider an apprenticeship, training or college program.

Spearheaded by the Associated General Contractors of California with support from construction firms such as Skanska and Kiewit, AGC of California Vice President of Workforce & Community Development Erin Volk says the campaign’s mission is to meet young Californians on their terms and sell construction as fun, stable and well-paying.

“We knew that we needed to reach and engage Gen Z where they are and how they like to best receive information, in a way that is technology-forward, interactive and easily accessible on their phones and other mobile devices,” Volk says.

Volk says only 9% of Gen Z is interested in a future in construction.

“We need to demonstrate the careers and training pathways in a way that is modern and ‘cool’ to them—not us as an industry—but also authentic and informative, which aligns with the expectations and values of the generation we are trying to reach,” she says.

The campaign’s website is meant to drive students, parents, teachers and job seekers to actionable information about careers in construction. Visitors can learn about the construction trades; get connected to apprentice programs across the state; identify college pathways; or find a job on the website’s job listing portal. Additionally, family members and educators can access information about the benefits of their students entering the industry and how to engage with the program.

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Source: NRCA

Fighting the labor shortage means a dedicated recruiting program for this contractor

By Karen L. Edwards, RT3.

The roofing industry and the trades in general are facing a labor shortage of epic proportions and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. When the recession of 2008 hit, the construction industry lost 600,000 jobs. According to GlobeSt.com a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79% of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by .5% annually for the next 10 years. This means competition for workers is fierce.

Developing a hiring pipeline.

Baker Roofing, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has implemented an aggressive program to recruit the labor they need. Brendan Hale, regional operations officer and former director of career development and recruiting explained that they had to shift their approach to recruiting. “We used to only advertise when we had open positions,” explained Hale. That method turned out to be challenging and they recognized that they needed to try something different. Like a sales pipeline, they realized they needed to create a hiring pipeline in order to have a pool of candidates in the funnel when positions opened.

To build that pipeline, the company increased their online activities. “We’ve got a heavy presence online through social media, staying on top of the latest trends,” said Hale. “We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat with the goal of publishing content that could be of interest to younger people.”

Baker Roofing maintains a strong presence on job boards too, with hiring ads rolling throughout the country to create awareness of their company and the opportunities. They also rely heavily on word-of-mouth from current employees, friends and family. These referrals are important for the company. “People choose to come here because they have confidence in the types of people who work here,” stated Hale.

Partnering with local schools and colleges.

“We do a lot of outreach with local high schools, especially in Raleigh,” explained Hale. “We sponsor Shed Day where all throughout the state, the trade classes build these sheds that they auction off and our head of recruiting is on the board. We donate time, materials, and money and talk to the kids broadly about construction but more specifically about a career at Baker Roofing.”

Hale said the company tries to have a corporate presence throughout the schools in their service areas and assists the local offices with building the relationships when they can. “We’re a big company with 22 offices. Right now, we’ve got a presence in the high schools in Charleston, SC, Raleigh, NC, Asheville, NC and Richmond, VA. Every year we try to grow that a little bit with the staff that we have and the resources we have.”

Baker Roofing is a big believer in internships for college students hiring interns throughout the company in accounting, recruiting, construction management and estimating. The students work for Baker Roofing over school breaks and the company has programs in place where if they are interested, they can be hired full time.

“We are a growing company and we know that people are your most precious resource; if they spent the time with us and we feel they have the right cultural expectations, morals and ethics we can typically find a spot for them here,” stated Hale.

Veterans are a resource for recruitment

Baker Roofing has also turned to the pool of veterans who are looking for work after leaving the service and reserves. “We have a large number of our employees who are veterans,” said Hale. “We have a registered apprenticeship program so we try to appeal to veterans where they can get started with us, learn the industry from the ground up and utilize their GI Bill benefits.”

When Baker Roofing hires a veteran and places them into the registered apprenticeship program, the veterans can receive money from their GI benefits in addition to the paycheck that they are receiving as a Baker Roofing employee. “As they are getting promotions and moving up within the company, the GI benefit begins to taper off. By the time they complete the three-year program, the idea is that they would be on their feet in a stable and long-term position,” explained Hale.

Starting a strong recruitment program

Hale says it’s tough to share advice on how to start and build a strong recruitment program because there isn’t one simple answer. “For smaller contractors it’s going to be harder. There isn’t a silver bullet out there that will solve all the problems,” said Hale. “It takes a variety of strategies. For a smaller contractor who may have a smaller team, it’s difficult to assign these kinds of tasks to someone who already has a FT job doing something else.”

“Ideally if a company has the capability, they need a champion who does this, and it needs to be their full-time focus. In order to sustain it someone has to constantly be working on it and thinking about it,” stated Hale.

Benefits are important too. Hale says that Baker Roofing employees have access to company benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, a 401K that offers a match. They also offer a clear guide for employees, so they understand what it takes to advance within their career, and they understand what the opportunities are within the company.

If a contractor doesn’t have the manpower or resources to do it on their own, it’s possible to get involved with the many other organizations who are already looking at recruiting into the trades. SkillsUSA and Keep Craft Alive are two initiatives that may offer an opportunity for a roofing contractor or someone on the team to volunteer and help introduce the youth involved to the idea of a career in roofing.

Another area to think about tapping into for recruiting is the female workforce. There are a very small number of women in the roofing industry and National Women in Roofing wants to change that. They recently surpassed 1200 members and one of their efforts is the recruitment of women into the industry. They are exploring initiatives that partner with organizations serving women in crisis to help those women get back on their feet and show them what a career in roofing could be like for them.

From military boots to Beacon Roofing Supply

By Karen L. Edwards,

RT3 member Beacon Roofing Supply developed a recruitment strategy that focuses on members of the military who are re-entering civilian life.

Beacon Roofing Supply Senior Recruiter Brian Link came to the roofing industry from his role as a recruiter for the National Guard. He was on active duty from 2003 – 2016 and is still active today but on a reserve basis. He spent his last few active years as a recruiter for the Guard so his transition into a recruiting position at Beacon was a natural fit for him. He interviewed for his position at Beacon with Dana Bamvakais who was a military spouse for many years.

Photo: Above and Beyond Award from ESGR. Left to right: Dana Bamvakais (Vice President of HR West Division), Governor Mike Parsons, SFC (Sergeant First Class) Brian Link (Military Program Manager), 2LT (Second Lieutenant) Brian Hughes (Market Dispatcher)

After Brian joined the Beacon team, he and Dana began planning a program that would focus on recruiting newly discharged members of the military. “The military in general is a blue-collar type industry where you form strong relationships with people of similar backgrounds and experiences; people who work hard and do what it takes to get the job done,” Brian said. “When you leave the military, you miss that camaraderie.”

He knew that Beacon was the kind of company that could deliver some of those things that those in the military were used to having: that strong team, a stable company with the option to have a long career, the ability to provide for their families and an environment that cared about them. He and Dana worked together to develop the outlines of a military recruiting program that would target those transitioning to the civilian life.

They put together flyers that targeted the Transitional Assistance Program (TAPS) that all branches offer to those leaving to let them know there was a place for them at Beacon. The programs help the military members create a LinkedIn program, develop a resume and teaches other skills that will help make the transition smoother.

Brain cited an example of a person he had met two years previously who was in the military in Florida. He wanted to move back near his family in Michigan and Brian was able to find him a position with the company in that area.

The military recruitment program has the full support of the company, from the Board of Directors to the leadership team and to the employees.  They are currently in the process of trying to get their Drive program approved as an apprenticeship so that employees can use their GI benefits toward earning their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). “If someone has experience driving large vehicles in the military, they will be able to complete a form detailing their experience, taking it to their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and only have to take the written portion of the CDL exam,” explained Brian.

It’s evident that Beacon is committed to supporting the military by the recognitions that they have received. The Employer Support of Guard and Reserve, the lead U.S. Defense Department program promoting cooperation and understanding between civilian employers and their National Guard and Reserve employees, recognized Beacon with their Above and Beyond Award with the Governor of Missouri presenting them with the award. They also recently received the Military Times award for Best for Vets.

“We really support our guard and reserve troops when they are deployed,” said Brian. “We send them care packages and let them know that they will have a job when they return from deployment.”

If you are a recently discharged member of the military or even if you’ve been out for many years, Beacon wants to talk to you. See all of their career opportunities or contact Brian Link at blink@becn.com.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

Lowe’s Takes Big Step to End the Skills Gap

By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.

Lowe’s just launched a workforce development program to educate young people on careers in trades like construction.

Generation T, or Gen T, is a consortium of 60 member organizations including manufacturers, schools and other stakeholders who are trying to end the skills gap. Lowe’s Skilled Trades Director Mike Mitchell led the development of the initiative. Left unaddressed, the skills gap reportedly could create a shortage of 3 million jobs by 2028.

Mitchell told the Charlotte-Observer that the company wants to debunk myths about skilled trades like carpentry, floor installation and plumbing. He said those positions are high paying and don’t require a college degree. Gen T’s goal is to understand why young people are avoiding the trades and introduce high school students to the trades as an alternative to college.

“The cause is two-fold,” Mitchell said in a Business Insider interview. “Past generations of skilled trade workers are retiring, and there aren’t enough trained workers to replace them. And for 40 years the skilled trades have been miscast. We need to help students understand the path to success leads through education that doesn’t have to be a four-year degree; skilled trades education is simply a different brand of education.”

According to the article, Gen T will “coordinate with its partners to donate products like appliances and tools to students studying trades and also help build networks so students can find apprenticeships.” Lowe’s has already donated tools to the schools near their North Caroline headquarters.

Gen T has set up a site that will serve as a “national marketplace for jobs, apprenticeships and education programs.”

“Individuals can leverage the platform to explore opportunities in the skilled trades and locate actual training and job opportunities in their area by a simple ZIP code search,” Mitchell said. “As more companies join the Generation T movement, more opportunities will become available within the portal.”

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Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

Study suggests autonomous robots working together are the industry’s next big thing

By Karen L. Edwards.

Collective robotic construction (CRC) specifically concerns embodied, autonomous, multirobot systems that modify a shared environment according to high-level, user-specified goals.

A Science Robotics study published this March states that ‘the increasing need for safe, inexpensive, and sustainable construction, combined with novel technological enablers, has made large-scale construction by robot teams an active research area.’

The study notes that 54% of the human population currently live in cities and that number is expected to grow to 66% by 2050. The researchers feel that collective robotics can help meet the construction demand in the midst of an ongoing labor shortage. CRC could also make construction safer for workers, with the Department of Labor citing that 20% of all worker injuries occur in construction.

The researchers were inspired by the extensive use of collective construction in nature for building nests, protection barriers, traps and mobility scaffolds. Where animal construction relies on reactive behaviors and ‘low-bandwidth communication,’ robots can rely on high-resolution sensors, high-speed communication and GPS to communicate their exact location for completing specific tasks.

Construction materials used in CRC are divided into two categories – discrete and continuous. Discrete materials would be square, rectangular or homogenous bricks, struts and sandbags. Continuous materials would be things like two-component foam, concrete and fibers.

The study says that “challenges pertain to CRC hardware, especially in relation to coordination, communication, and multimodal sensing.” The robots need to be able to adequately communicate and coordinate with nearby robots for success. “As more advanced sensors such as radar, depth cameras, laser imaging and ranging systems, and GPS become cheaper and more readily accessible, they may play a bigger role in the field. ”

The researchers reference two published systems, UAVs and climbing robots,  that can be used to develop a metric that measures constructed volume relative to time, the number of robots used and the volumetric size of each robot. “A flying robot [UAV] has higher energy expenditure and lower payload than a climbing robot but may fly directly between material cache and deposition sites. Reversely, climbing robots can carry more but have to traverse through previous construction.”

The study is the first step in really determining how robotics can make an impact in construction. Further study is needed to develop performance metrics, evaluate the reliability of CRC and it’s ability to adapt to changes in movement, or expected behaviors of the other robots. There also needs to be more research in order to determine where humans fit into the CRC picture to oversee work, make adjustments and corrections when there is an error and in the support and maintenance of the robots.

Read the full study here. 

Monster end-of-year report shows that construction and trades topped the list for hiring in 2018

By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop Editor.

The report also analyzed other stats such as the busiest days for job searches and what people are searching for.

Website Monster.com is a leading source of job postings. As 2018 came to a close they decided to scour their data covering everything from top job titles to industries hiring the most and issued this report. It should come as no surprise to those of us in the roofing industry that the construction category was at the top of the list for hiring.

While it was a top category, it’s important to note that Monster placed construction in the category along with trades, production and warehousing. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report cited the addition of 25,000 jobs in November alone, which suggests these additional jobs might be related to the increase in Amazon’s needs for workers and the company setting their minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Construction and trades was the highest hiring category in 28 states. The next most popular category was Technology – maybe suggesting that there needs to be more technology developed to support the construction industry.

The company’s data also shows that people are not really searching for construction work. The top 10 search terms were:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Part-time
  • Accounting
  • Receptionist
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Human resources
  • Warehouse
  • Administrative
  • Manager

The data also showed that the most popular time of year for job searches is in January and February. One could surmise that people are entering the new year with a renewed resolution to make a career change. Eight of the top 10 busiest days for job searches were in January and the remaining two busy days were in February.

If you’ve got job openings it might be a good idea to be sure you get them posted. At RoofersCoffeeShop® we see many jobs posted and employees hired through our classified section. It’s an affordable way to reach a large pool of potential employees that have experience in the roofing industry.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

Examining the Labor Shortage and What Every Contractor Should be Doing to Change It

By Karen L. Edwards, RT3 Think Tank.

It’s no secret that there is a labor shortage, not just in the roofing industry but in the trades in general. A recent article by NPR blames the 1970s and 1980s, decades where we pushed our kids to get bachelor degrees.  We frequently hear this as the reason why today’s youth don’t even consider a career in the trades.

John McManus, writing for Builder Online takes a slightly different angle in this article, reporting that there will be an estimated 3.5 million (2018-2019) high school graduates in the U.S. with 3.1 million expected to enroll in degree-granting post-high school institutions. Only 2.7 million will finish, earning associates or bachelor’s degrees.  Doing the math, that leaves nearly one million adults aged 18-22 who aren’t in college and could be recruited into the trades.

As McManus speculates in his article, the challenge is one of attraction and requires a new focus on marketing the trades to Generation Z – the kids currently in middle and high school, who will quickly outnumber the Millennials. While marketing to teens isn’t new at all, what’s different is that there are more companies doing it whose products are traditional teen products like video games or acne medicine. Charles Schwab is targeting this audience because in 10 years, these kids will have jobs and salaries and need investment services.

Just as these companies are making their products and services appealing for when Gen Z reaches post high-school age, the trades should be marketing their industries as a viable, long-lasting career opportunity to consider instead of the traditional four-year college degree.

National organizations and associations take action

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) organized the first-ever  Roofing Day in D.C. for members of the roofing industry to meet with their representatives and senators to discuss issues affecting the industry and its livelihood. NRCA credits Roofing Day in D.C. with contributing to Congress’ approval of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Ace (H.R. 2353), which is expected to be signed into law any day by the President.

The bill reforms career and technical education under the Perkins Act, which had not been reauthorized by Congress since 2006. It will expand opportunities for work-based learning programs, strengthen incentives for development of industry-recognized credentials and provide new opportunities between employers and educational institutions to meet local labor needs.

WorkingNation was founded by venture capitalist Art Bilger, and exists to educate and communicate the hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis and bring the country together to create new jobs for a changing economy. The organization runs the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the SkillsUSA Championships in an effort to strengthen the talent pipeline to American industries by instilling valuable work-ready skills and leadership qualities within students.

There are also groups coming together to recruit and encourage minority populations to learn more about careers in construction and roofing. GirlsBuild is an organization that hosts summer camps in Oregon for girls 8 – 14 years of age to learn the basics of building, including carpentry, plumbing, electricity, concrete, sheet metal and more. The girls are taught by skilled female instructors. The program has received national attention from television host Mike Rowe through his show, “Returning the Favor.” There is such value in these programs that National Women in Roofing recently awarded scholarships to send two women from the Rutherford Housing Partnership in North Carolina to attend the camp and learn how they can replicate the model on the east coast.

What you can do in your community to help address the issue.

While these national efforts are great and will eventually make a difference, it will take time for things to shift and may take even longer for initiatives to reach your local community. It’s up to contractors to engage with their schools, service organizations and communities to try to create a shift on the local level. While that sounds like a great idea, many contractors are stumped with how to get started.

It can be as simple as reaching out to the principal at your local community schools or trade schools. See if they have career fair days for the students to learn about opportunities after they graduate. You could participate in that to share how rewarding a career in roofing can be for the student after high school.

Ask if there is a construction project that the school would like to have done where students could participate and learn what it could be like to work in the trades. Josey Parks, owner of J. Wales Enterprises, is teaming up with K-POST Roofing and Waterproofing to partner with a high school in an impoverished area of Fort Worth, Texas to work with students on constructing a fence to obscure a view the school has of a prison next door. He’s working through securing donations from suppliers to make the project happen and hopes to share his story soon.

Miron Construction Co. in Wisconsin hosted a ‘Build like a Girl’ event at their headquarters where dozens of female students gathered to work with a female carpenter to learn about framing walls, pouring concrete and operating boom lifts. The company hopes to increase the number of women interested in construction jobs.

Other community organization such as Scout troops would also most likely be willing and receptive to working together on construction projects or hosting a learning and project day for the Scouts to learn more about the industry and options for careers.

By reaching out to the schools and organizations in your community, you are helping to spread the word that it is possible to have a successful career in an industry that is elevating its professionalism, embracing technology and provides unlimited advancement opportunities.

What you should be doing within your own company.

Labor shortages are not only caused by a lack of new, young talent entering the workforce, but it can also be caused by existing workers leaving due to frustrations, lack of support and training or advancement opportunities.

Take a long look inside your company and evaluate your culture. Are you providing your team with opportunities to learn, to grow and to lead? Are you taking advantage of training and educational classes for your team that are offered by the industry associations? Are you allowing them to attend the industry conferences and expositions that will allow them to see and learn about the latest technologies, tools and methods?

It’s important to create a culture that promotes and supports your team. When you have a happy team, they will be a loyal team and will stay for the long-term. They will also become some of your best recruiters for finding the right workers to join your team. Instituting referral bonuses and hiring bonuses can also make a career with your company more appealing.

The bottom line is that it’s going to take all of us working together, on the national level, on the local level and within each of our individual companies to spread the word about the opportunities that a career in the trades and in particular, the roofing industry, has to offer.

Employers in Construction Industries Must Work Harder to Engage and Keep Employees

By Karen L. Edwards.

It’s no secret that skilled jobs are the hardest to fill. The problem is only going to worsen if employers aren’t willing to attract and engage their workforce.

According to an article on Constructionequipmentguide.com, at the recent Association of Equipment Manufacturers ConExpo-Con/AGG 365 initiative, Ethan Martin, a consultant and executive coach shared three things companies can do now to make a difference.

  1. Make an attitude adjustment. Change is happening among employees and in the market; companies must be willing to face that and make adjustments. Successful engagement is interconnected with other organizational aspects and shouldn’t be viewed separately, or it risks becoming an uninteresting task.
  2. Commit the time and resources now. Tomorrow is too late. Many companies report lack of time and resources as reasons why they aren’t engaging employees. Martin warns that engagement efforts can take years to yield results. He works with one company that has reached out to high school students and local career centers, but they understand that they won’t see results for two to four years. Others cite costs as reasons they are not engaging, but by investing in employees, the company will benefit in the end.
  3. Hire for character first. Martin says character is most important when hiring. You can teach anyone to do anything, but character can’t be taught. If at some point, the good-character employee does decide to leave it’s likely they wouldn’t just up and leave in the middle of a project.

It’s time to take a look inside and ask yourself if you are engaging with your employees. What are you investing in them? According to Gallup, only 32 percent of employees are engaged and 51 percent are actively looking for a new job. This article in Forbes identified several ways you can work toward building a more engaged team:

  • Acknowledge employees – Say ‘hello’ and ‘good night.’ Know their names, know things about their families and their life outside of work. Ask them about it. Tell them when they are doing a good job.
  • Focus on employee development – Be sure you are providing opportunities for employees to grow their career. Give them new duties and responsibilities, consider job rotation, send them to training and offer educational assistance.
  • Don’t micromanage them – You hired and trained them to do a job, now step back and let them do their best work.

Remember that results won’t happen overnight but start today and you will be well on your way to creating a culture that attracts and retains your company’s biggest asset – It’s employees.

Note: This article first appeared on RoofersCoffeeShop and can be viewed here.