One of the most pressing questions facing the remodeling industry today is: “Where will we find the next generation of contractors, skilled laborers, tradespeople and craftsmen?” NARI Charlotte is actively involved in developing and implementing a multi-pronged approach to help solve this growing problem. Understanding how we got into this mess is the first step towards crawling out of it.
- When the 2008 recession hit, many skilled workers were unable to find jobs and dropped out of the industry – never to return.
- A whole generation of younger workers are not even considering construction as a viable career option.
- For decades, high schools phased out shop classes, and parents have steered graduates to four-year colleges and white-collar careers despite the staggering costs of higher education.
- Many high school guidance counselors are still beating the college drum with no warning about the astronomical debt many students will have strapped to their backs if, and when, they graduate with a four-year degree.
- Meanwhile, older skilled trade workers are retiring and there simply aren’t enough people with the knowledge and experience to take their spots.
The statistics are widespread and sobering:
- A recently released survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) revealed that nearly 80 percent of construction businesses are having a hard time finding qualified skilled labor.
- A recently released survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that 69 percent of its members were experiencing delays in completing projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers.
- A recently released survey by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) revealed that labor shortages impacted 70% of members. Not only are projects taking longer to complete but wages for skilled trades are increasing which means project costs are going up.
NARI Charlotte is on a mission to make the remodeling industry more attractive to kids starting as early as middle school. The prevailing notion in our society that a 4-year college degree is the “only” path to success has led to the “diploma dilemma” where we have millions of college graduates unable to get jobs with their chosen path of study while millions more skilled labor positions go unfilled. Something’s got to give.
Not Just Talk – Action
NARI Charlotte is on the front lines of the fight for change. The solutions include not only encouraging more young people, women and veterans to join the honorable ranks of the skilled trades – we are pouring our time and resources into changing the image of construction as a low-paying, blue collar, no-respect industry. This is simply not true! The opportunities are endless for people who are interested in solving problems and learning how to work smarter, not harder.
Let’s face it – not everyone wants to sit in a cubicle all day pushing papers. There’s something fulfilling about helping people improve their homes. There’s something magical about the creative process of turning raw materials into beautiful living spaces that will be enjoyed for generations. It takes design expertise, people skills, and craftsmanship which is often taught, not in a classroom, but out in the field.
Here is what we are doing:
- NARI Charlotte offers three local scholarships through the Jim Harkey Memorial Fund to NARI members, employees and family members for those interested in pursuing the trades. We promote, fund, vet, and award these scholarships each year!
- Our WIN (Women in NARI) group has partnered with She Built The City, a non-profit company focused on getting women in the trades. Our work with She Built This City focused on resume, interviewing, and career preparation to give these women the skills and knowledge needed to get their careers jump-started in the trades.
- We are thankful to be able to support a brand-new trade school in Charlotte, NC – The ROC – which stands for Rebuilding Opportunities in Construction. The mission of The ROC is to recruit, educate and mentor high school students in Charlotte, NC for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and employment opportunities in the construction industry. NARI Charlotte is an active advocate for the school.
- WIN (Women in NARI) has partnered with Put Tools in Schools, a group dedicated to educating young people about alternate career paths in the trades. By visiting middle and high schools with hands-on demonstrations, local companies are showing young people that there are lucrative, fulfilling careers in the trades industry. WIN participates in these career fairs and has stepped up to help educate young people about their options.
- Our local Board of Directors is committed to capturing the attention of kids early and showing them the opportunities waiting for them in the remodeling industry. One of the best ways to do this is through the local school systems. Several of our board members have carried the NARI Charlotte banner to local classrooms in Mecklenburg and Union County. We promote the future of the construction industry at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Career Discovery days and we have representation on the Union County Public Schools Construction Trades Advisory Committee meeting.
Wondering how you can get involved in helping to solve the skilled trade crisis? Don’t underestimate the impact you can make. We need your help! Email our Executive Director, Mara Esser, to find out how to best use your skills, experience and knowledge to make a real difference.