To help members address their workforce development challenges, NRCA has been working with Congress to improve federal policy governing career and technical education (CTE).
NRCA believes more effective CTE programs (also known as vocational education) are vital to the roofing industry’s long-term prosperity. In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for roofing contractors to find applicants to fill job openings despite vigorous efforts to recruit workers. The shortage of qualified workers is caused by a variety of factors, including an aging workforce, educational trends that encourage greater numbers of students to pursue four-year college degrees and the physically demanding nature of roofing work.
CTE programs must be expanded to help meet the growing need for skilled applicants to fill well-paying roofing industry jobs. Roofing contracting companies provide great opportunities for those seeking fulfilling careers if they have the proper skills and work ethic.
In 2015, Congress began developing legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a law that authorizes policies governing programs involving the development of career and technical skills among graduates of secondary and postsecondary institutions. Policies governing these programs have not been updated by Congress since 2006, and the program’s effectiveness in meeting employer’s needs is in question.
At the same time, NRCA began working with lawmakers to develop policies to improve and expand CTE opportunities that meet the roofing industry’s challenging workforce development needs. The goal is to provide new opportunities for employers to collaborate with educators at state and local levels to develop CTE programs designed to achieve employers’ workforce objectives.
A reauthorized Perkins Act should strengthen the role of employers and provide maximum flexibility in the design of CTE programs to ensure they effectively meet constantly changing economic demands, including expanded employer-sponsored internships and on-the-job training in CTE programs.
New legislation should provide more incentives for the development of industry-recognized credentials, which NRCA views as a key component of encouraging greater interest in roofing industry careers.
In June, several lawmakers introduced the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 5597). The legislation seeks to reform and expand Perkins Act programs and largely adopts NRCA’s policy recommendations. The bill will ensure CTE programs provide enhanced incentives for work-based learning opportunities, new incentives for the development of industry recognized credentials and other reforms to better align programs with the roofing industry’s workforce needs.
In July, H.R. 5597 unanimously was approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and on Sept. 12, it passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 405-5. With a vote in the Senate still uncertain, NRCA is hopeful that Congress will approve H.R 5597 by the end of 2016.
NRCA recognizes the importance of workforce development to the industry and will continue working with key lawmakers to get the legislation passed.