Meeting the Challenge of Workforce Development
An issue that the construction industry continues to face is the shortage of skilled labor. Across the country, various trades have struggled to find skilled craftworkers. The trend of fewer skilled tradespeople is an issue that the construction industry has faced as far back as 2014. While no single organization has discovered the exact solution to address this shortage industry-wide, Rosendin has been working hard to pave the way. Its pioneering efforts have been effective, particularly in the Southwest and Northwest markets. The company's Early Learning Opportunities with high school students and initiatives within workforce education and training have already shown results.
Rosendin's Hillsboro, Ore., office focuses on the recruitment of high school students through Early Learning Opportunities (ELOs) and engagement with local chambers of commerce. These ELOs offer high school students the opportunity to visit Rosendin's warehouse to learn about careers in the electrical trade. Not all students seek a traditional four-year college education. However, those students may not be aware of the career paths available to them in the electrical trade. The two-day program that Rosendin operates in partnership with the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce is geared toward those students. This program teaches interested students technical skills such as basic wiring, building information modeling, estimating, project management, engineering and pre-fabrication. Soft skills such as interview preparation, resume development and others are also addressed to teach these students how to actually pursue their desired potential careers. ELOs are not only focused on the students, however. The company says it seeks to also educate teachers about careers in skilled trades. Offering externships that inform teachers and guidance counselors about the electrical trade allows them to educate their students and parents.
Training Workforce to Continue to Lead
While the development of the new workforce is essential for long-term labor fulfillment, it is equally important that the existing workforce is empowered. Rosendin is a proud member of the IBEW. The Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) produces graduates who are highly skilled electricians capable of working on the most complex electrical systems. Three years ago, the company observed a trend of communication difficulties between new craft workers and more experienced tradespeople. To address this apparent experiential communication gap, its Tempe, Ariz., office implemented an Electrical Boot Camp program in mid-2019. The purpose of the program is to complement and expand upon what participants learn in the JATC program.
To date, Rosendin says it has had 50 participants complete the program, and its success is evident in the 79% retention rate of new hires for the field. Field supervisors, while initially reluctant, now advocate for new hires to attend this training. Supervisors have seen an improvement in the work product of those who have completed the course. And participants report feeling more confident in their daily tasks and better communication with their peers.
Rosendin's Electrical Boot Camp is a 40-hour course on basic electrical construction. This course is intended to train individuals with little-to-no electrical construction experience. The program will produce an electrical worker that can communicate with Journey-level workers. It teaches trainees the most common hand and power tools and how to use them. Additionally, it teaches students to identify and use common electrical materials and provides them with a basic understanding of branch circuits and devices. Students gain basic knowledge and application of conduit fabrication. Rosendin says that it believes early investments in learning fundamental skills and communication and collaborative techniques are essential for a thriving and productive workforce.
The majority of participants in the company's Electrical Boot Camp are in the pre-apprenticeship phase of their education. Their participation in Electrical Boot Camp will help set the foundation for students to get the most out of their time in the JATC. Rosendin's Electrical Boot Camp focuses on soft skills such as effective communication and conflict management and resolution, but also practical skills, including basic hand tools and power tool utilization. Safety training occurs in conjunction with all training to reinforce the company's safety culture and protocols. Equally essential is the practice that participants receive in how to plan for a task. This training starts at a fundamental level and covers all factors that craft workers should consider before performing a task such as materials, tools, hazards, and equipment. The 40-hour program is covered over 5 days with a "Day 6" offered to address skills such as conduit bending circuit wiring.
Rosendin believes that the value in providing continuing education opportunities for its workforce leads to long-term retention and success. Establishing innovative solutions to strengthen its skilled craft workers reinforces Rosendin's mission of building quality, building value, and building people. This mission has helped to produce the most skilled and educated workforce to guide the company through its next 100 years.
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About the authors
Courtney Hron is the business development manager for Rosendin's office in Hillsboro, Ore. She is responsible for marketing, community outreach and workforce development in the Pacific Northwest. A graduate of the University of Oregon with degrees in journalism and communications, Hron is committed to engaging with Rosendin’s local communities in the Pacific Northwest. She is passionate about workforce development and helping young students as they discover the electrical industry and the opportunities that await them.
Stephan Cole is the workforce development coordinator for Rosendin's office in Tempe, Ariz., with 20 years of experience in the electrical construction industry. A 2004 outstanding academic achievement graduate of the Phoenix Electrical JATC, Cole also attended eight years of continuing education with the NJATC. He spent eight years as a training coordinator with the Phoenix Electrical JATC. In this role, he oversaw 20 instructors, was influential in developing the curriculum for the practical skills training program, maintenance of that program and coordinated recruitment efforts. Cole is experienced in a variety of project types ranging from small commercial to large industrial facilities such as the Palo Verde Nuclear plant in Arizona and Santa Rosa Hospital in northern California. He has also worked as a field supervisor on small and large electrical projects. Since joining Rosendin, he has led the development of the Electrical Boot Camp program.