The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) developed a workforce development task force last fall, and it met for the first time Jan. 29 during the NPGA winter board of directors meeting in San Antonio.
NPGA developed the 12-member task force to address the propane industry’s aging workforce and find ways to recruit more young people into the industry.
Jane Stroupe, regional project director for the southern region at AmeriGas, serves as the task force’s chairwoman, and Eric Kuster, NPGA’s director of safety and certification, is its staff liaison.
“We want to recruit and be able to train and retain qualified employees in the propane industry,” Stroupe says. “We have a lot of aging employees who have been in the propane industry a number of years, so we’re looking to replace their experience and knowledge.”
Stuart Weidie, NPGA chairman, developed the idea for the group earlier in the year and has been considering the issue of workforce development in the propane industry for years.
“This topic has been discussed for a number of years, particularly at board meetings for NPGA,” Weidie says. “In my travels as NPGA chairman, I went to meetings representing 40 states, and this was a primary concern. ‘How do we find and attract the workforce of the future for our industry?’ It was consistently raised within states that we need to tackle this as an industry.”
The task force will work to gather information on programs, initiatives, methods, techniques, training programs and partnerships that can be developed or used to help propane marketers attract new employees and retain current employees. The task force’s first meeting stirred up interest among others at the NPGA meeting, as others not in the group came to listen, Stroupe adds.
“Tons of people initially volunteered for the task force,” she says. “There’s so much interest in it that we had to limit the number of members manageable through conference calls. We seem to have a lot of interest in this task force because getting good employees is a challenge that everyone faces.”
The task force will have another conference call in March and will meet at April’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. The task force will also hold a panel discussion in Nashville on recruiting and hiring employees. The session, titled “Recruitment and Development: Attracting New Employees to the Propane Industry,” will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. April 21.