It is nearly impossible to have a conversation with anyone in the flooring industry these days without someone uttering something about the “labor shortage.” This issue dwells on the shelves of the backs of our minds and for good reason. It impacts everyone. Solutions have presented themselves in various forms; however, there is no silver bullet at this point. Instead, it is a slow, steady slog to the finish line, requiring everyone to pull his or her weight—whatever that might look like, but things are happening. 

In January, the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) launched its pilot program, Basic Floor Covering Installation, at Georgia Northwestern Technical College in Dalton, Georgia. The course was at max capacity, and every student graduated the 10-week course in March. 

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has been hosting training and education programs for quite some time. In an effort to bring more awareness to these programs, the NTCA showcased one of its training vans at Surfaces. The van tours the country bringing NTCA workshops and regional training programs to cities near you. 

The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) expanded its apprenticeship program “to meet the industry’s increasing needs for more highly skilled installers” in March. INSTALL now offers training in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Los Angeles, California with more locations to come.  

A scholarship for minority students studying construction was announced in April by the Associated General Contractors of America and Procore Technologies, Inc., a global provider of construction management software. The fundraising goal for this scholarship was $500,000. That goal was met and will be available for the 2022-2023 semester.

The Natural Fiber Installer Certification (NFIC) plans to open the NFIC North Georgia Training Center this fall in Jasper, Georgia. The International Certified Flooring Installers (CFI), National Association of Floor Covering Technicians (NAFCT) and the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) will be working with NFIC at the new training center. 

The Home Builders Institute (HBI) released a report in June that indicated that the number of secondary schools in the U.S. embracing trade skills curriculums is increasing. The report shows that in 2019, HBI programs were in 79 schools in 14 states. Those numbers have jumped to 240 schools in 37 states for 2022. 

Some of you are taking matters into your own hands. Last month in Contractor’s Spotlight, John Steier and I had a conversation about him taking the initiative to enter his local high school and expose students to carpet installation as a career option. This month, I speak with Kris Jeter, owner, James Island Flooring, in South Carolina. He has taken a young man, Gabe Evjen, under his wing to teach him hardwood flooring installation. 

Whether it is a flooring organization taking steps to increase education and training or an individual passing his or her knowledge on to the next generation, just remember to keep moving forward together.