HUNTERSVILLE, NC - Woodworking tools and a 2015 Ford F-150 Truck were awarded in IRWIN Tools 'Nominate a Tradesman' competition, which named Jen Netherwood winner in its first annual award that acknowledges outstanding tradesmen for their contributions within their field and community. Netherwood worked with local community colleges on a prison pre-apprenticeship program to keep the program running after funding was cut.

IRWIN  Tools, founder of National Tradesmen Day, is commencing the fifth anniversary of the event with the first-ever crowning of the "Nominate A Tradesman" winner. National Tradesmen Day recognizes the hardworking men and women who make a positive impact on the development and growth of their communities, while also raising awareness of the shortage of skilled laborers in America. To reinforce this message, IRWIN launched the Nominate a Tradesman competition to acknowledge these outstanding tradesmen on a monthly basis and select one of these professionals as the ultimate winner for their contributions within their field and community.

The first-ever winner of the competition, Jen Netherwood, is a carpenter of more than 11 years, who developed a pre-apprenticeship program for women in correctional facilities. The pre-apprenticeship program provides these women with valuable and marketable skills to facilitate their transition back into the workforce. Netherwood will be honored this Thursday, September 17th, at a crowning ceremony at the IRWIN Tool's headquarters where she will be awarded a 2015 Ford F-150 Truck, along with new IRWIN tools.

"We saw the need to recognize the men and women in the trade industry who contribute to the growth and advancement of our communities everyday," said Rich Mathews, Senior Vice President, IRWIN Tools. "National Tradesmen Day has successfully brought awareness and appreciation to these professionals for the past five years and the Nominate a Tradesman competition furthers this initiative. We've selected Jen as our honoree because she embodies what this day represents through her dedication to her community and the positive changes she's made in her industry. We're proud to have her as our first winner of this competition."

Previously a girls' college soccer coach and camp instructor, Netherwood became a pre-apprenticeship instructor at a women's correctional facility. Under her guidance, the class framed, roofed, installed doors and windows, and provided finish carpentry on multiple small dwellings. When the program lost funding from the private sector, Netherwood collaborated with the Bureau of Labor and Industries and local community colleges to develop and implement another pre-apprenticeship program for the prison that was free of corporate interest. It was this commitment to continuing the program that led to Netherwood's selection as the 2015 competition winner from more than 2,500 nominations.

Irwin Sponsors National Tradesmen Day Today

IRWIN believes in recognizing the contributions of skilled trade workers like Netherwood as the need for skilled trade professionals continues to rise. According to iCIMS recruiting software, the construction industry had the second largest talent shortage in 2014. While this shortage is alarming, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for construction laborers will grow 25% from 2012 to 2022 as the housing construction market continues to rebound.

IRWIN invites the nation to celebrate National Tradesmen Day to Friday, September 18. The crowning ceremony will took place at the IRWIN Tools headquarters in Huntersville, N.C.  September 17.


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