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Taking Training to the Next Level

Johns Manville Training RLW
September 18, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.

By Colin Sheehan, RCS Reporter. 

How the roofing industry can attract and retain a workforce through continuing education. 

With the Read, Listen, Watch® (RLW) initiative, RoofersCoffeeShop® has made it easier than ever for members of the roofing and construction industries to learn how they want. Whether you want to read a transcript, listen to a podcast or watch a webinar, the Coffee Shop has made it possible for you to learn your way. 

In a recent RoofersCoffeeShop RLW, RCS President, Heidi J. Ellsworth, sat down with Jennifer Ford Smith of Johns Manville to talk about the importance of ongoing training. Both women have been highly involved in organizations such as National Women in Roofing (NWiR)Roofing Alliance and National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and are passionate about building the roofing industry’s workforce through quality training, certification opportunities and professionalism.  

Jennifer has been in the industry for 19 years, and has continuously focused on building relationships with her colleagues and learning from them. In her years in the industry, Jennifer has gotten up on roofs, worked with technical organizations and interacted with some of the brightest minds in the industry by joining associations and participating in their events. 

“I think whether it's industry or just my personal life, I just feel like if you're not constantly learning and trying to learn something new, you could probably be living a pretty boring life,” said Jennifer. “Each experience I had was a building block on the next. And it's really up to us as individuals to put those building blocks in place.” 

No matter who you talk to in the industry, something on everyone's mind is the labor shortage. In the construction industry, this is not a new phenomenon. Manufacturers, contractors and distributors all struggle with attracting and retaining employees. Unfortunately, there is a poor public perception about the roofing industry and what kind of jobs are available. 

“We've been in this industry for a long time, and we have great friendships, and we've had great careers, and there's great opportunity,” said Jennifer. “But on the outside looking in, the perception has always been a struggle for us.” 

Organizations like NRCA are leading the charge on changing this perception. Jennifer is a new director with NRCA and is looking at how they can better build career paths in roofing for those already in the industry as well as newcomers. For instance, NRCA’s relatively new ProCertification program allows workers to demonstrate their advanced roofing skills and knowledge and become certified by NRCA in specific roof system installations.  

“ProCertification is really exciting,” said Jennifer. "It really gives people that visualization of where they can go next in the industry, [and will] help improve the perception of the industry and get people talking positively about it.” 

Read, Listen or Watch the entire interview to hear Heidi ask the top ten hot training questions and to get more information on how the roofing industry can attract the next generation.



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