“There are several challenges facing the sector. In the short term this includes finding people of the right calibre and quality we need to take the industry forward. Like all employers in the construction sector, we tend to fish in the same pond. Perhaps we need to look at things differently and try to find a new pond.”
Graham says it is essential that people coming into the sector as specialist skilled roofing installers are the right fit, but says the current model may need to change in order to attract more trainees.
“The employees of today are totally different to past generations. We need to adapt to the fact young people will have lots of career changes. Instead of trying to fit them into our businesses, we may need to look at how we can fit around them a bit better too.”
Attracting new recruits to the roofing sector is one thing, but keeping them is another, he says.
“A lot of effort goes into getting people through the door, but presenting them with opportunities for an exciting career is the key to retaining them. A roofing specialist might start out on the tools but once they have a grounding in the trade there are many other areas they can progress into such as sales, quantity surveying, management roles, business ownership, and even working for manufacturing partners or other companies associated with the sector.”
Graham says roofing is not currently on the skills shortage list, which is a problem giving the looming pressure on the sector.
“With the Auckland building boom and ongoing Christchurch rebuild there will soon be a massive shortage of roofing personnel. If roofing was already on the skills shortage list we could prepare now by bringing in skilled migrant labour. Waiting until there is a shortage and trying to address it then doesn’t make sense.”
With so many trades competing in the same labour pool, Graham says RANZ will continue to highlight the benefits of working in the roofing sector to young male and female trainees to help bridge the gap.
“Roofing is a great trade, with huge potential and career path opportunities. We are keen to talk to more young trainees about why the industry could be an attractive proposition for them, and also to establish how the roofing sector can adapt more to their needs. If we keep doing similar things we will get similar results, so it is exciting that RANZ is moving ahead in a proactive rather than reactive fashion.”