Last week, the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) celebrated a significant milestone in its efforts to spread awareness, recruit, and scholarship training for flooring craftsmen. A pilot program for technical colleges and trade schools was launched at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC). The Basic Flooring Installation program developed in partnership with FCEF is designed to prepare men and women of all ages for a lucrative career in flooring installation. The first class is filled to capacity with eight students who all applied and were approved for scholarships from FCEF to cover the cost of the course. 

After the first week of class, students were excited by how much they had already learned and the job potential this training will offer them. 

When asked what his favorite part of the class has been so far, John Knowles shared, “the hands-on experience, for sure. Getting to actually do it after talking about it is crucial to learning.”

A program like this is a first for the flooring industry. It required significant coordination across current training entities, sponsors, donors, Georgia officials, and the Georgia Technical College System to get the program introduced at GNTC. 

“Never before have we had this big of a coordinated effort to create a program for technical colleges,” shared Jim Aaron, executive director at the FCEF. “We’ve always wanted to see flooring installation available in technical schools, and now we’re making that a reality.”

The program will be held at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton, Georgia, and will provide students with basic skills needed to install each of the four major flooring types and serve as a general overview of the flooring craft. While the first 10-week cohort is already underway, a second is planned to begin on May 16th. CFI Master II installer Dave Garden is serving as the instructor for the first two cohorts of this program and will also help to train future instructors. 

Anyone interested in attending the second cohort should visit FCEF.org to find more information and apply for the FCEF scholarship. 

“My favorite part of the class is doing math, drawing lines, and measuring the rooms,” shared Ceasar Manzano highlighting the fact that there is a technical side to flooring installation that appeals to students who like to work with their hands and have great attention to detail. 

The FCEF partnered with the largest and most qualified training entities in the flooring industry to create the curriculum for this program. Those training partners are:

  • International Certified Flooring Installers (CFI)
  • Certified Tile Educations Foundation (CTEF) 
  • National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)

The FCEF credits Georgia Representative Victor Anderson for providing the vision and the introduction to the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). Anderson is also the co-owner of Anderson Carpet One Floor & Home and understands the significant need for more flooring craftsmen. 

“We are really so thankful to Victor for bringing this opportunity to the FCEF and helping to make connections within the Georgia Technical College System,” Kaye Whitener, director of operations for the FCEF. “There were so many people that came together to make this happen. It was truly a team effort and FCEF is proud to have been there to bring everyone together to reach this common goal.”

Dr. Ray Perren, Deputy Commissioner for the Technical Education at TCSG was also instrumental in getting this program off the ground as was the team at GNTC. 

“We are grateful to have worked with such a supportive technical college to bring this first class to life,” added Aaron. 

As the start date for the program drew near, even more supporters stepped up to help make it happen. Many suppliers in the flooring industry donated materials and tools including Shaw Industries, William Bird, Congoleum, Dal Tile, Ardex, and RFMS. 

“We even had support from the installation craftsmen community who want to help promote and elevate their trade,” said Whitener. 

Jen Zurn, co-owner of Precision Surfaces and a certified hard surface installer, helped build all the modules the students will use to practice their new skills. She volunteered her time to help the next generation of flooring craftsmen. 

The FCEF and its training partners and supporters gathered on Thursday, January 13 to celebrate this milestone. Along with representatives from FCEF and GNTC, the event was attended by Dalton’s Mayor David Pennington, representatives from the Technical College System of Georgia, FCEF’s training partners, and flooring industry executives. 

After the completion of this course, students can go on to further their training or apprentice within one of the specialties to grow their skills and experience. Skilled individuals in this high-demand field can expect to earn up to a six-figure salary.

Students in this course are excited to start their new careers after completion of the program. 

“I plan to work for a good flooring company here in Dalton, Georgia,” shared Manzano. While Stephenson plans to seek a job in Cartersville, GA. 

“Opportunities for flooring craftsman are widespread,” added Aaron. “There are jobs available across the country and more programs like this in our technical schools. Our plan is to work with flooring retailers across the country to implement this program in schools in their communities. Duplication of this program nationwide will go a long way in solving the installation labor crisis.” 

The FCEF Certified Basic Installation course is currently being offered through GNTC’s Economic Development program. FCEF hopes that by the start of the Fall 2022 semester this pilot program will receive state accreditation, providing the basis for additional courses, and opportunities for participants to be eligible for additional scholarships and financial aid.

For more information, visit FCEF.org.