Recruiting, Retaining, and Training a New Generation of Craftworkers

Panelists at the Coatings+ workshop included AMPP’s Melissa Craig; Chris Kucherawy of Conomos Industrial Painting & Coating Services; and Tanner Carroll, Jesús Martinez, and Ken Seal of the The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

In a workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at Coatings+, craftworkers, contractors, and asset owners came together to discuss the benefits of pursuing a career in coatings application and blasting. The workshop was held as part of the Coatings+ conference in the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Following a 15-minute keynote lecture on the potential career paths of a craftworker, the workshop transitioned into a panel discussion featuring different perspectives on tenured craftworkers, those new to the industry, and asset owners and contractors. Some participants shared their motivations for choosing a craftworker certification versus a four-year degree, while others shared their experiences looking for credentialed workers.

The goal of the discussion was to shed light on the current state of the workforce and how to find, attract, and retain qualified personnel. Members of the panel were:

  • Melissa Craig, Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP)
  • Ken Seal, Tanner Carroll, and Jesús Martinez of the The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT)
  • Chris Kucherawy of Conomos Industrial Painting & Coating Services

Key takeaways from their discussion included:

  • The next generation of craftworkers is looking for mentorship and training when it comes to retention and building a career at any specific company.
  • Contractors want to know how to recruit and retain workers. They gave feedback that they are open to providing recognition, training, and mentorship for those new to the industry, along with providing more support for tenured staff who are being asked to lead on-the-job training while also being responsible for finishing jobs on time and on budget.
  • The industry realizes that they need to look at local schools while building awareness that craftworker and trade routes are a great alternative to pursuing a four-year degree. The message should be that someone can always go to college later, if they choose.
  • The industry needs to change the stigma, noting that craftworkers are hard-working, technically skilled, competitively paid workers. Moreover, there is room for growth and career longevity. It’s not just painting; this is a lucrative, international field!
  • Finally, the craftworker career path should provide workers with upward mobility. A contractor can start them with learning the ropes and working a blast pot, but give them opportunity to learn and grow, if they desire it.

AMPP also shared information regarding its own course offerings to assist in the development of the next generation of craftworkers, including Industrial Coatings Application (ICA); the Abrasive Blaster Certification Program; a Spray Application Certification Program; and the Coating Application Specialist Certification Program.

Ultimately, panelists and attendees appeared happy to contribute to the overall dialogue regarding future plans for the industry, with a goal of resuming the talks next March at the first AMPP Annual Conference + Expo in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Sources: Coatings+ Show Daily,; AMPP,