By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.
DECRA’s Western Zone Manager Kevin Nelson, like most of us in the roofing industry, is well aware of the future workforce challenge that we face. He is based in Texas, an area that is known for roof replacements because of the storms, hail and tornados that come through every year. It’s also an area where metal roofing is quickly growing in popularity because of its durability.
As he watched contractors struggle to find workers, he came up with an idea. The local community college in his area, North Lake Community College, offered certificate programs for plumbers, electricians, HVAC but not for roofing. What if he could convince the college to add a roofing-specific class?
It started with a simple phone call. “I picked up the phone and made a call to the college’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Community Initiatives, Joyce Williams,” explained Kevin. “I gave them a presentation about the industry, about metal roofing and DECRA specifically, and about the challenges we are facing. They were able to see my vision of helping individuals enter the workforce through metal roofing and it just took off from there.”
Kevin worked closely with Sheral Phillips, WBT Coordinator Business Development, to develop the curriculum. They created a nine-week course that is 75 hours of both hands-on and classroom time with classes meeting Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. The first 11 hours are focused on earning OSHA certification and the next 16 hours are all on basic construction and safety.
“It was really important for us to dedicate as much time as we could to safety because it is a number one priority in our industry,” said Kevin. “That’s especially true at DECRA where safety is always first whether its in the workplace, in the field, or even at home in our personal lives.”
The remaining 48 hours of instruction focuses specifically on roofing systems with 20 of those hours specific to the installation of the six unique DECRA profiles. “When a student completes the program, they receive their OSHA certification and program completion certificate,” explained Kevin. “They could get a job right away working for a roofing contractor and have the necessary skills to be up to speed on OSHA, safety and installation of metal roofs.”
Kevin said that the first session began June 3 of this year, the next one starts July 8 and the program will run consecutively through the year. It is limited to a maximum of 15 students so the students can receive more one-on-one training. If interest grows it would expand to have multiple sessions running concurrently.
DECRA’s hope is to use this program as a blueprint that could be expanded to schools across the country.
Learn more about the program.
Learn more about DECRA.