WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recognizing the immediacy of the issue, the Recreational Boating Leadership Council launched a special task force on Monday to organize and fuel the industry’s effort to combat boating’s workforce shortage.
“We’re a voluntary group and we’re not charged with this, but our need for qualified employees for every facet of our industry has become a very critical issue,” council chairman Matt Gruhn said after the meeting. “There are shortages everywhere. States are addressing the issue, various associations and other groups, too. We’re saying let’s put it all together and form a united effort before it gets worse.”
The RBLC meeting opened this year’s American Boating Congress, a three-day legislative conference where the industry in a united effort formulates and lobbies for public policy positions on issues that affect marine businesses. More than 250 recreational boating industry stakeholders are expected to gather in Washington.
Gruhn also heads the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, which has conducted an assessment survey to identify workforce shortages. Gruhn said one of the most telling results is that more than 21 percent of full-time positions at dealerships remain unfilled.
Gruhn said the RBLC will act swiftly to form the Workforce Task Force. “It looks like we won’t have any trouble getting volunteers,” he said.
RBLC member Nancy Cueroni, executive director of the National Marine Distributors Association, said she was happy to sign up.
“It’s obviously on the minds of everyone, and we’re very excited that we are helping with this issue,” Cueroni said, adding that John Adey, president of the American Boat and Yacht Council, also will sit on the task force.
The RBLC was created during the industry’s third Growth Summit in December 2011 to guide and oversee efforts to increase participation in boating and spark action and discussion to overcome obstacles to growth. The group meets twice annually, once in May and once in December.
In other committee news, the group decided to disband its Affordability Task Force, saying it has completed its job by raising the issue and providing tools to help educate the industry. Additionally, other task forces, such as Marketing and New Markets, are constantly addressing the issue, said Gruhn. (There are six task forces.)
The New Markets task force said it has completed its plans to implement a multimedia multicultural educational training tool. The task force said it has struck a deal with a production company to produce a video. The 45-minute “best practices” video is expected to be completed this fall.
“Businesses can use this to develop plans to bring new markets into boating,” Gruhn said.