D&D Elevator on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
One of the primary issues facing U.S. industry today – across virtually all the manual labor trades, and particularly in construction – is an ongoing shortage of trained technicians. In the face of this skilled labor shortage, construction contractors across the U.S. are being forced into the uncomfortable position of having to turn down work. A recent Wall Street Journal survey revealed that more than 33% of the survey’s respondents needed to do so to maintain their project volume, a particular problem on the coasts and in regions recently affected by catastrophic weather events.
In the currently-bustling economic environment, there is no shortage of jobs in construction, but rather of skilled workers to fill them. Around the U.S., this is being strongly felt in the elevator industry, where steadily-growing building construction has created increasing demand for technicians to install, service and maintain new and existing systems. More and more one hears, “we need more trained technicians, but there’s no one available to hire.” Many firms are reporting that this is their greatest single challenge and that they are expecting such conditions to escalate in the months and years ahead. Some are offering increased compensation and benefits to attract the additional skilled labor they need, but to little or no avail.
According to Bob Schaeffer, CEO and President of Elmsford NY-based D&D Elevator Maintenance, the solution is “training, training, training,” and D&D has a plan underway to help.
An elevator industry veteran, Schaeffer has throughout his career been a strong advocate for education. Among his many accreditations, he served as board president of the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) and, as Education Chairman, was instrumental in creating the Certified Elevator Technician (CET™) certification. This nationally-recognized certificate program provides the elevator industry with the means of obtaining and verifying knowledge and experience requirements related to compliance with industry codes, elevator and escalator specific technical theory, components, and competencies.
For its own company, D&D Elevator has been delivering apprenticeship training for over 15 years with great success. Explains Schaeffer: “To allow us to grow at a reasonable pace, our goal was to make sure we always had enough skilled workers, while maintaining and enhancing our existing workforce. More recently, we have seen a dynamic change in the workforce. Retirees have outpaced new apprentices and rather than deal with the rigors of daily maintenance, repairs, modernizations and the installation of elevators, many qualified technicians have opted to become inspectors and third-party witnesses. Our industry urgently needs a young, skilled labor force to come in behind them.”
To address this need, D&D is working on expanding the training model to other elevator companies nationwide that subscribe to the common goal of using only educated and safety-trained skilled labor. When D&D began asking other companies if they had any interest in this, the answer was a resounding ‘if you build it, we will come.’ Accordingly, D&D has begun the process of building a 2,500-sq-ft Elevator Learning Center in Yonkers, NY, minutes north of New York City, anticipated to open Spring 2018. In keeping with the objective of developing an innovative education model that other companies would find valuable – while ensuring that the educational content is proven and accepted – all classes are being taught by highly-experienced and certified instructors.
According to Schaeffer, the overarching objective of the Center is to allow for other companies to train at its facility, either through its approved educational delivery system, or a process created through contractor related organizations. The Center’s services will include certified testing, proctoring and graduate placement services for entities that provide apprenticeship and re-certification. Working with Human Resource professionals, it is planning to add personal attribute and ethics training to help create well-rounded candidates who understand the importance of communication, quality and professionalism. Preliminary discussions are underway with school districts to include an elevator technician pilot program in trade schools at the high school level, to prepare students for apprenticeship training.
To provide actual hands-on, “real-life” training for students, the Center is receiving equipment from many companies in our industry, including Titan, Hollister-Whitney, Columbia Elevator, Delaware Elevator, AFD Industries, Innovation Industries, GAL, ESI, SmartRise and others; we are most grateful for their generous contributions to this mission.
Concludes Schaeffer: “We see this approach as a solution to the shortage of skilled labor – to help build a body of educated, trained, skilled, responsible workers for our industry, who can make an extremely good living while serving a pressing societal need.”