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Roofing Industry Makes a Play for the Next Generation

Josie Elias / Alamy Stock Photo Josie Elias / Alamy Stock Photo
Labor shortages are forcing many employers to think differently, and the roofing industry is no different. Many companies are altering their approach to cater to a new and younger "Gen-Z" workforce.

As the demographics of America’s workforce change, many in the roofing industry are also trying to adapt and address trends of labor shortages by appealing to younger workers.  

Industry leaders, like Nick Sabino, the president of Deer Park Roofing Inc., came together at the International Roofing Expo in New Orleans to discuss real examples of how the industry is adapting to attract younger “Gen Z” workers.

In colloquial terms, Generation Z, also known as “Gen Z,” refers to people born between the years 1997 and 2012, according to the pew research center. Many within this generation are now entering the workforce.

“One of the things that we try to do is do a lot of video training, some short clips, 2-3 minutes long,” Sabino said. “Our view is that the younger generation goes to YouTube for everything.”

Sabino said his company will create videos on YouTube and provide easy access to the videos with QR codes and the videos on YouTube also have links, which directs the views back to his firm’s website.

Sabino said he’ll show trainees videos, make them accomplish tasks themselves and then ask test questions.

“We break it into four different sections but that model seems to work for the younger generation,” Sabino said.

Matt Miller, a Marketing Coordinator for Deer Park Roofing Inc., agreed with Sabino’s approach.

“I’m pretty sure that everything important that I’ve ever learned outside of school has been from YouTube,” he said. “So, I feel like definitely my generation really does go to the internet for everything.”

Erin Dennison, the Chesapeake Safety Director for roofing company J.D. Miles and Sons Inc., said she incorporates videos and hands-on training for new hires that includes instruction on how to properly wear a personal fall arrest system, and making sure harnesses are worn correctly.

“And I think I’d like to start incorporating more hands-on training and making sure that they know exactly what they’re doing,” she said.

Sherri Miles-Foley, a vice president of J.D. Miles and Sons Inc., followed up.

“Going to YouTube is great, but it may not help you figure out what you need to do that day on the roof for that foreman,” she said.

She said audits are also routinely performed which provide additional chances to ask questions and iron out any potential confusion about tasks or safety with new hires.

Tim Stevens, from Architectural Sheet Metal Inc., said the industry needs to focus on consistency in making sure training is followed up on.

“They absolutely need the training. They’re hungry for it,” he said.

Stevens said YouTube can be very helpful in terms of getting advice, consistent training approaches with opportunities for feedback are more valuable.

“You’re catering that training to the things that they actually need and don’t take for granted the stuff that they don’t know,” he said. “There’s no low level that you can train from as long as you’re consistent.”

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