We’re all being hit with the labor shortage in the construction and flooring trades. Not only on the installation side, but also at the manufacturing and management levels, and everything in between. Yes, there has been a lot of money spent on studies to determine what’s going on with the labor situation, and the answer we always seem to get is that there is a labor shortage.
Well, I don’t think we need to spend a lot of money on surveys and studies to tell us that. Those of us who live in the “real world”, and run businesses could have told anyone that it’s tough to find qualified, trainable, dedicated and passionate people to hire. We keep talking about attracting the next generation of potential young adults to the trades, forgetting that at one point we told them that hard work was something they didn’t need. And in school, counselors kept pushing them toward the high tech industry, and the majority of high schools and community colleges even dropped their shop programs.
Fortunately, all of my kids had the opportunity to take a shop class growing up. Those of you who had the opportunity to take a wood working, welding or construction class, do you remember constructing something? I took woodworking and remember making a small step stool. Not sure what happened to that stool (it may be at my dad’s house), but I know we still have the step stool our youngest son Austin made in our home. By the way, he’s now 36 years old.
We’re focusing a lot on the young kids coming up, but are we really looking at all of the opportunities to bring on hires? In an industry dominated by males, the flooring and construction trades are seeing more and more women, and they are making an impact. Many of these women may not necessarily be just coming out of high school. More often we are seeing women who are tired of working in a cubicle and wanting to explore other career options. When you speak with male contractors, many of them say they like the independence, variety and freedom of the work they do. So why not the same for women?
If you follow flooring industry social media accounts, you’ll see quite a few women active and posting their work, conversation and support across platforms. Maybe it’s the work of Utah-based Angie Halford Ré of Unique Mosaics displayed on Facebook, or conversation within the Tile Chicks Facebook group, created by Michelle Blomquist Hamilton. Of course, there are others that I haven’t mentioned, but thank you to all of the women who support our trades. A special thank you to the women at our company, Suzy, Keisha and Celeste!