The Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) has had an intense and focused year rallying the industry around the goal of reducing the shortage of installation craftsmen in the flooring industry. Each of the organization's initiatives is focused on one of the three primary components of its mission: recruitment, scholarships, and placement.
The organization had a lot of wins in 2023. First, it coordinated the industry's first flooring installation technician program at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC). Two 10-week pilot programs graduated 15 students (see coverage of these courses here). FCEF achieved accreditation on a 15-week course, and the flooring elective option is embedded in the construction program at Atlanta Technical College.
The accredited 15-week flooring installation technician program will kick off again at GNTC in January 2023. Also confirmed for 2023 are programs at Piedmont Technical College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Indiana. Now that the program is accredited and the curriculum has been developed, FCEF expects to be able to roll out these programs at a much faster pace.
“Networking with the technical college community has been fruitful,” said Kaye Whitener, director of operations, FCEF. “There’s a lot of interest out there to add this program and generate interest in flooring craftsmen careers.”
Three companies donated flooring materials so the tech college course. Romanoff Renovations and William Bird each donated two truckloads of materials, and Swiff-Train donated one truckload of materials.
Several companies offered discounted tools and supplies, which will be used for the replication of the technical college course going forward: Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring, Ardex Americas, Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, Bostik, CFL Floors, Congoleum, JJ Haines, Laticrete, Tools 4 Floors, and William M Bird.
A number of companies became financial sponsors of FCEC. The Dixie Group committed $50,000, CCA Global Parnters committed $50,000, and Welspun is donating one cent per square foot of select Welspun products to FCEF. Happy Feet and Midwest Distributors signed on to the pass-through program. Van Herron is also donating $1 for each scratch and repair kit sold.
FCEF hired Jen Zurn as eduation project manager. She will work with schools and industry supporters to grow technical college programs across the country. See Floor Trends' Women in Flooring podcast with Zurn here.
Another milestone for FCEF over the past six months has been the connection with school counselor organizations.
“We know that many students who choose a trade career path or study trade careers at a technical college are heavily influenced by their guidance counselors,” said FCEF Executive Director Jim Aaron.
FCEF attended the American School Counselor’s Association (ASCA) conference in July, which was the first time flooring has been represented at this event, and has been working with the Association for Career and Technical Education to help counselors understand the benefits of a career in flooring and guide their students on making career decisions.
Throughout all the discussions during the day, the board of directors remained committed to the cause and was determined to build off the foundation created. Plans for 2023 include increased efforts to develop technical school programs across the nation, social media advocacy campaigns and guidance for retailers to activate on a local level.
For more information, visit FCEF.org.
See all of our FCEF coverage here