HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. - The National Kitchen & Bath Association today announced a Trade UP initiative aimed at inspiring students to seek  careers in design, construction and manufacturing fields, says NKBA CEO Bill Darcy.
"If we fail to attract new, young talent to our industry, kitchen and bath projects will inevitably take longer to complete, triggering higher costs for everyone, including homeowners," says Darcy, who adds that the NKBA has long supported such excellence in kitchen and bath design education through its Accredited Provider program and professional certifications.

3 million construction jobs unfilled

According to Darcy, the shortage of skilled labor within the design, construction and manufacturing fields has become an increasingly critical issue since the end of the Great Recession. Today, an estimated three million positions in construction that do not require a four-year degree remain unfilled, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This skills gap is expanding each year, directly impacting the kitchen and bath industry.
To address the issue and overcome the negative connotations often associated with working in the trades, the NKBA announced the Association's support of a trio of new programs that will focus on closing the skilled worker gap while also promoting the value of "Trading UP" to a vocational career.
The three programs are:
  • The ACE Mentor Program of America 
  • The Skilled Labor Fund from the SGC Horizon Building Group.
  • This Old House Ventures' Generation Next Initiative on behalf of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation's Work Ethic Scholarship Program
Generation Next is a new philanthropic campaign created by This Old House Ventures to encourage and empower young people to join skilled trades. 
Through its relationships with companies and trade organizations, Generation Next www.thisoldhouse.com/toh-generation-next) will support the funding of scholarships for students pursuing careers as carpenters, electricians, roofers, masons and plumbers.  Donations will support the mikeroweWORKS Foundation's Work Ethic Scholarship program. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity started by Mike Rowe to promote training in trade skills currently in demand, as well as to address the "widening skills gap by challenging the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people."
Last week, the entire TV crew from This Old House and Generation Next sponsors including American Standard, InSinkErator, Masco (Behr, Delta Faucet, KraftMaid, Merillat, Brizo, BrassCraft, Liberty Hardware, and Quality Cabinetry), Carhartt, HomeAdvisor, Marvin Windows & Doors, The Unico System and the NKBA, presented a check for $500,000 to Mike Rowe in support of his foundation's Work Ethic Scholarship Program.
"When we heard about Generation Next and the mikeroweWORKS foundation, our whole team immediately wanted to jump on board," says Darcy. "We are passionate about encouraging students to join the skilled trades, and we are looking forward to promoting the Generation Next campaign at KBIS this year."
In addition to supporting the scholarship fund as a sponsor, the NKBA also announced it will dedicate communications throughout the coming year to changing perceptions about vocational careers.

The ACE Mentor Program of America

Now with 65 affiliates in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the ACE Mentor Program of America (ACE) was established in 1994 by design and construction industry professionals and companies to meet future workforce needs. Numbering approximately 3,800, ACE volunteer professionals serve as mentors to young people and as board members, providing in-kind services annually valued at $10 million.
During the 2015-2016 school year, ACE, which stands for architecture, construction and engineering, engaged 8,500 high school students — two thirds of whom are minorities and one-third, female. More than 6,000 of these students from 1,100 different schools completed the free, 15-session, after-school ACE program. Two of every three high school seniors finishing these sessions entered a college program connected to the design and construction industry.
Since its inception, the Rockville, Md.-based ACE has awarded more than $14 million to young people looking to study industry-related majors in college or enter a skilled-craft training program. In 2016, 800 students received $1.7 million in scholarship funds.

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