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Attracting New Manpower to Industrial Painting

March 27, 2019

Vulcan Painters is part of a developing initiative that is a partnership with AIDT (the Alabama Industrial Development Training), The Onin Group and others, called Ready to Work (RTW).  In many trades, there are simply not enough skilled craftsmen to fill all the construction jobs available.  Yet Onin found  there were high school graduates that wanted to enter the workforce, but could not find opportunities.  It is an issue that has begun to get more widespread attention in recent years as students, their parents and educators delve into alternatives to a college education.

 For some students, a career in construction can be the answer.

Onin in partnership with Phifer Wire, worked with employers, educators and community colleges to use the existing state Ready-to-Work curriculum and then added on industry specific training to meet the needs of local industries.  It is designed by employers for employees, so each training block is created to meet real hiring needs.

We were invited to participate in RTW last summer and are part of the founding membership that started in one high school in the fall of 2018 (Minor High School), and expanded to four high schools this spring (Bessemer City, Jackson Olin, Wenonah, and Minor).  The program is set to expand to 14 area high schools this fall. 

The curriculum starts with five to seven weeks of “soft skills,”-- time management, problem-solving skills and critical thinking. The curriculum ranges from workplace documents, to social networking, budgeting fundamentals, verbal and non-verbal skills, working in teams, diversity, workplace ethics, and conflict resolution.  The last ten to thirteen weeks of the program is focused training from specific industries in the region.  They include tours of work sites, speakers from the various industries, interview training.  The main industries the program has focused on include construction, automotive, logistics and distribution, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality.  Training covered in these industry talks is different for various industries, but include industry vocabulary, procedures, workplace safety  and 5-why problem solving. 

The course includes a certification if the candidate achieves the required level of attendance, punctuality and achievement.

“The program is a curriculum that the high schoolers take for an entire semester and they get broad exposure to various industries,” says Nathan Reamey, Vulcan Painters’ vice president of Operations.   “These are students that have self-selected that they are not planning to pursue college after high school graduation but are rather planning to enter the workforce.  I’ve been able to get in front of each of the groups of kids to talk to them about the industrial coatings field and we will be able to participate in their career days at their respective high schools.

“I’ve always thought that we needed an avenue into the high schools to recruit in the local area.  Until now, there has not been a good avenue to reach these students.   This Ready To Work program, I believe, is that avenue.”

Nathan Reamey talks about careers in industrial painting