“Train today, prosper tomorrow. It’s not just swinging a hammer – it’s a career trajectory,” said Rob Balfanz, VSI’s Director of Workforce Development, in describing VSI’s new Ladder to Success model being released this month.
The VSI’s Ladder to Success is designed to help aspiring professionals find a clear pathway to a successful career in the construction industry. It’s a strategy that fits into every market area in North America, including the hurricane states, the Sun Belt states and the winter states. And it may be one of the few legitimate career tracks in which one could start by making a living wage as an installer-trainee in their first year, to earning a six-figure salary as an owner-operator/subcontractor.
“We understand that there are not many high school students saying ‘I can’t wait to graduate and become a vinyl siding installer,’” Rob stated. “But when you can help them visualize step-by-step what their future could look like as a highly-skilled vinyl siding professional, I think you’re going to attract more interest from the right candidates.”
Rob feels that – unless you were born in the trades like he was – you are not going to know much about vinyl siding as a potential career option. And as a manufacturers’ association, VSI has effectively pivoted to think like a trade association in order to best overcome this barrier to growth. With the Career Ladder to Success model, VSI’s Workforce Development team now has an appealing product to take to high schools, trade schools and junior colleges.
“The construction industry in general has two major challenges now – materials and labor,” Rob explained. “We have an opportunity to focus on labor. Who better than us to say ‘we have hope’ in developing a strong pool of talent to become certified vinyl siding installers?”
VSI’s installer certification program plays an integral part in its Career Ladder to Success, starting with the one-day VSI Installer-Trainee Course, and followed by the advance preparation that Installation Technicians receive for the Certified Installer Course and Exam. To build on this momentum, VSI is creating a credential that will be acceptable to the U.S. Department of Education, as well as a customizable recruiting tool for businesses to adopt as their own Career Ladder to Success.
VSI is also exploring the possible development of an industry partner program to recruit sponsorships and enhanced support for the training and coursework – especially as they deliver the education through virtual and hybrid formats to reach larger numbers of candidates.
“This compels my team to move quickly on building infrastructure so that we can hit the market stronger,” Rob asserted. “We teach our installer trainees about safety, customer service and how to be a team builder. Instead of going to college for this type of training, installer professionals can just come to VSI.”
Don Browne is a writer, entrepreneur and local legislator who believes that the power of words can change the world. He provides unique writing services for clients in the construction, health care, IT and hospitality sectors. He has a passion for small business and start-ups, as well as writing about Irish history, family and corporate biographies. As a homeowner and father of four who is passionate about community development, Don looks forward to writing more about the exciting possibilities of creating traditional neighborhoods and more sustainable communities using modern materials.