NRCA Training Helps Roofers Fight Labor Shortages


By Sara Vaughn, NRCA 

Experts say the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated roofers’ ongoing labor shortage. To help roofing companies attract and retain workers during the industry’s ongoing labor shortage, the National Roofing Contractors Association developed Training for Roof Application Careers.

TRAC is designed to equip new and inexperienced field workers with information and skills to help them become quality roof system installers who thrive in their careers. Because TRAC blends online and hands-on elements, worker training can proceed even while COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are in place. 

According to many roofing contractors, the sooner an inexperienced worker becomes a productive worker the more likely it is the worker will stay in the industry. However, roofing contractors often spend thousands of dollars trying to recruit workers in a competitive environment but don’t always have the time or means necessary to retain their new employees. TRAC is designed to provide everything new workers need to begin successful careers in the roofing industry. 
More than 1,000 participants already have chosen TRAC to learn how to become quality roof system installers less than one year after the program launched. 

It’s no secret the roofing industry currently is experiencing a labor shortage as experienced workers retire and younger people largely choose to attend college instead of trade school. The unexpected onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy and forced millions of Americans out of work. As roofing companies wait to resume normal operations, there is an opportunity to recruit new workers——even those with no roofing experience——and train them properly for a successful long-term roofing career using TRAC. 

With a goal of offering a package for every roof system type, NRCA currently offers four TRAC packages: Asphalt Shingle Installation package, Thermoplastic Roof Membrane Installation package, Low-slope Onboarding package and Steep-slope Onboarding package. A TRAC package for roofing foremen is in development. 

A one-time purchase of a TRAC package gives an employer unlimited use of all materials needed to train an unlimited number of English- and Spanish-speaking employees at a pace and time that works for them. The goal of TRAC is “conversational competence,” or the ability to interact with foremen and other crew members with confidence so new employees can readily learn by observing, being productive and asking intelligent questions. TRAC participants will understand terminology that helps them engage with co-workers in helpful ways, concepts familiar to the roofing trade, and duties and responsibilities they can expect to engage in as crew members.

The TRAC Low-slope Onboarding package and the TRAC Steep-slope Onboarding package each include a series of online courses and an exam to help new employees onboard quickly and efficiently. These packages contain an essentials overview and core curriculum; however, they do not include training for specific roof system installation. 
The TRAC Asphalt Shingle Installation package includes online courses and exams, as well as hands-on training activities that provide potential roof system installers with the knowledge necessary to work on an asphalt shingle roof system installation crew. Participants learn about asphalt shingle installation and flashings. 

The TRAC Thermoplastic Roof Membrane Installation package includes online courses and exams, as well as hands-on training activities that provide potential roof system installers with the knowledge necessary to work on a thermoplastic roof system installation crew. Participants learn about single-ply membranes and installation and thermoplastic seaming and flashings. 

New employees and inexperienced workers can begin training from home now by completing the online portions of TRAC while practicing social distancing. The TRAC Low-slope Onboarding package and the TRAC Steep-slope Onboarding package include more than 8 hours and more than 6 hours of online content, respectively. The TRAC Asphalt Shingle Installation package includes more than 20 hours of online content, and the TRAC Thermoplastic Roof Membrane Installation package includes more than 30 hours of online content. All online content can be completed using any device, including computers, tablets and smartphones. 

Employers who commit to offering exceptional worker training to new hires and midcareer employees can more easily attract and retain workers. When an employer can show a potential worker a clear pathway to a successful roofing career with a guarantee of support and ongoing training opportunities, the individual is far more likely to enter the industry than when offered a position with minimal training and no future opportunities for advancement. 


To help guide new employees through TRAC, an employer may consider sending one or more experienced roofing professionals to an NRCA Qualified Trainer Conference to become NRCA Qualified Trainers. NRCA Qualified Trainers are professional trainers and coaches who conduct engaging hands-on training sessions for TRAC participants and advanced roof system installers seeking professional certifications through NRCA ProCertification, NRCA’s national worker certification initiative. 

NRCA Qualified Trainers possess the knowledge and dedication to explain how NRCA’s training and certification programs work together; conduct training sessions designed to help workers learn about roof systems and their installation; coach workers to develop their installation skills; and guide workers through NRCA’s online and hands-on training activities. Whether a TRAC participant is completing training in person or online, an NRCA Qualified Trainer is uniquely equipped to provide essential support and coaching throughout the process. 

NRCA’s Training for Roof Application Careers serves as a springboard for interested individuals to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become professional roof system installers. Now more than ever, NRCA encourages roofing employers to use TRAC as a recruiting tool for new workers searching for rewarding careers. 

Employers who invest in TRAC will have everything they need to recruit, train and retain hardworking employees despite the labor shortage. With program materials available online and guidance from NRCA Qualified Trainers, new workers can begin training for their roofing careers immediately — safe at home — and be ready to advance to hands-on skills development when COVID-19 restrictions are eased and the industry returns to work.