Children Today, Roofing Professionals Tomorrow


A focus on children is one more way to fill the pipeline of employees for the industry.

By Karen Cates.

For the 20 plus years of my involvement with the roofing industry, I have heard a common lament about the labor shortage in roofing. Advances have been made to attract new workers. For example, many contractors are making career paths in roofing more salient, shifting their cultures to elevate workplace dynamics and using new technologies to attract younger workers.

A focus on children is one more way to fill the pipeline of employees for the industry. In my earlier post, I discussed the need to bring children up to speed on roofing careers.  Research has demonstrated that as early as three-years old, they are already creating decision maps about what they want to be when they grow up. It’s time that roofing claimed a spot alongside fire chiefs and doctors. So how do we encourage children to become the roofing professionals of tomorrow?

What do your children know about your role as a roofing professional? You have an opportunity to impact children’s perceptions of the roofing industry.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Bring your sons and daughters to work.  Not just to the office, but to the shop and the yard and the job site. Is it safe enough to bring them on a roof? Can you share the best parts of being up there? A great view? The sunrise or sunset? The pride you take in a job well done? Take some time to create an experience that conveys the way you feel about your work. Children map memories with their feelings. Are they excited, too? Or are they bored? Create moments that will last.
  • Bring the roof to the children. Visit your son’s or daughter’s classroom and create a roofing experience for them. Can you bring plastic hardhats, goggles and day-glow vests so they are dressed for roofing success? Can you bring a worker dressed for roofing work including harness, boots, hardhat, tool belt and gloves? How about pictures of particularly interesting roofs? Be sure to tell stories and bring roofing tools or materials with you so they can touch them. Appeal to all the senses when you talk to children.
  • Take it up a notch. Set up a career day and open house at the business and invite not only your workers, but potential workers and their families, too. Set up some model roofs low to the ground for the workers and their kids, maybe let them be a part of the presentations. Create a repelling demonstration or some other kind of cool, heroic roofing-related moment that makes the day special. Serve food and give away children’s roofing books. The event, if the focus remains on roofing and is a part of a larger recruiting effort, will be memorable not only for the workers, but for their kids, too.

These are just a few ideas, so please share your own experiences. What are you doing to ensure that children’s career curiosity will include roofing?

Karen Cates is an executive coach, consultant, adjunct professor at Northwestern University and teaches future roofing industry executives through the NRCA’s Future Executive Institute.

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