Workforce development: Now what?

Written with the assistance of the National Asphalt Pavement Association Graphics courtesy of National Asphalt Pavement Association

In 2020, VAA monthly newsletters (Asphalt News) have highlighted NAPA’s research by GolINTEL, Golin’s research hub. Special Report 227 focused on “Understanding the Opportunities in Asphalt.” To understand the opportunities, GolINTEL conducted surveys, focus groups, and test messaging. These efforts lead to various recommendations for the asphalt industry—associations and Contractors, to consider in reaching a new workforce.

For associations, connections must be made with parent organizations and groups. In much of the effort documented in the special report, parents significantly influenced the careers and professions their children pursue. Parents need to know more about the industry, the career growth potential within companies, salaries (initial and potential), and job stability, so they don’t feel it necessary to dissuade children from the road construction industry. Messaging to parents needs to highlight the positive impacts the industry will have on individuals and the contributions the individual will have on their community.

Where an association may not be known by name, a contractor’s company name is more recognizable. Contractors have offices, employees, projects, etc. in communities and can have a major impact on the future workforce by being present in the local school systems. Companies need to make connections with the younger generation and educators/counselors. They can make presentations, participate in job fairs, donate materials, and host field trips, to name a few opportunities. Ultimately, companies need to explain how they make life better for everyone while providing a rewarding career to employees.

Finally, associations and contractors need to stay on top of communication. The days of the Help Wanted ads in newspapers are a thing of the past. While word of mouth is an effective marketing and recruiting tool, younger generations use social media to learn about companies and careers. A social media presence by associations and contractors is critical to educate and attract the workforce of tomorrow.

Going into 2021 and beyond, VAA will continue to work with VAA members, NAPA, state asphalt pavement associations, and other partner associations to address the workforce shortage. Stay tuned, and please share your workforce success stories.