ORLANDO - The Skilled Labor Fund announced its formation at a press conference held at Design and Construction Week, along with a request for funds to support its goal. The Fund will seek $5 million to fund trade school scholarships and alleviate industry labor shortage. Funding is being sought from any company affected by the lack of skilled labor and anyone affiliated with the industry.

The fund was created to address the increasing lack of high-quality, skilled labor entering the residential construction employment pool. With as many as 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S., which the Fund says is an increase of 81 percent over the last two years, the problem is confronting stakeholders across the industry and across the country. The Fund seeks to raise funds through industry partners, including builders and remodelers, dealers and associations, market-affiliated companies, select government agencies, and building product manufacturers.

“We are excited to launch this critical effort to build a stronger workforce for the future,” said Tony Mancini, group director-principal of SGC Horizon. “The lack of skilled trade labor has been impacting the residential construction market for several years, effectively raising construction costs, workers’ wages, and slowing the construction and renovation of homes. It’s time we all work together to take important steps to reverse the trend.”

The National Housing Endowment, a 501(c)(3), will oversee the fund and 98.5 percent of all funds raised will be dedicated to the fund’s mission of “Building a Stronger Future.”

Supported by NAHB, NKBA, NARI, and SGC Horizon, the fund’s operating committee consists of senior management from each of the above organizations, which will recommend recipients of scholarship awards. Awarded funds will be disbursed as scholarships to accredited schools within the community where the dollars are raised, assuring donors that their investment will benefit their local market.

“The time is now, we cannot let this escalate any further,” said Ted Mahoney, National Housing Endowment board member. “Everyone can take a step to cure the skilled labor crisis.”