by Lisa Birkman,
Chief Communications Officer, Texas Roofing Company
Follow us on Twitter: @txroofingco
As a former teacher, current mentor and lifelong learning enthusiast, I read with great interest a recent article in Professional Roofing magazine, published by the National Roofing Contractors Association, about a roofing apprenticeship program in Florida. The article, “Advanced Roofing Shares How It Created a Roofing Apprenticeship Program,” by Kevin Kornahrens states that nationwide, many construction firms have trouble filling available positions, especially with workers already skilled in areas needed to be a successful employee at a modern roofing company. This is certainly true for our company. So, to solve the problem in the Ft. Lauderdale area, Advanced Roofing Company partnered with local schools, trade organizations and the community to create a three-year apprenticeship program. The curriculum used in South Florida includes hands-on lab time learning about a variety of topics such as polymer modified bitumen, commonly known as modified, roofing; sheet metal fabrication and of course, safety certification. When an apprentice graduates, he or she becomes a roof mechanic or lead person on a crew.
In Texas, many school districts no longer offer robust vocational curriculums. The focus seems to be on preparing students for college. Although that is great goal for some students, it is not the path for most. In fact, about eighty percent of all Texans do not earn a college education within 6 years of graduating from high school, according to data reported by the Texas Tribune last year. In an apprenticeship program, students could earn approximately $12-18 an hour to start and then jump to $20-25 an hour upon successful completion. For employers, apprenticeship programs offer a way to not only train workers but also to ensure quality production into the future.
Our company has worked with the Geometry in Construction class at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville ISD for the last three years to build a “Tiny House.” We teach them how to construct a quality metal roof. Then, other trades teach them how to build other parts of the house, which is subsequently sold to construct the next “Tiny House.” This sort of short-term program would be a good way to lead students into an apprenticeship program, which could then be followed by a successful career in the roofing industry.
I urge the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas and its affiliates to pursue such an apprenticeship in Texas.
To read the Professional Roofing article, go to http://www.professionalroofing.net/Articles/Training-a-new-generation–02-01-2016/3782