There has been a lot of talk lately about blue-collar employees, putting Americans back to work and making the country great and – while we don’t want to touch the politics of this issue with a 20 foot ladder – we do think we can add something to the conversation about the importance of the American craftsmen (and women) of this nation and we are in good company; several well-known home building and remodeling sites are using their popularity to promote the value of skilled employees of the building trades.
According to Fine Home Building, “Though the post-recession housing market is bouncing back, the construction workforce is not, and that’s posing significant challenges to anyone who works on or owns a home.”
They go on to say, “A disparity between the employment demands of a growing housing industry and the shortage of trained, qualified labor — the so-called skills gap — is rocking home building to its core. In a 2016 industry survey prepared by Marianne Cusato, a professor at Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, 93 percent of professionals felt their businesses would grow over the next year if not for difficulties in hiring skilled employees. Of those who are qualified as skilled laborers, 61 percent attribute the shortage to a lack of exposure to the trades for younger generations. … From the pace of building, to the cost of construction, to the prices of homes, to the quality of our housing infrastructure, the skills gap is having deep and far-reaching influence.”
– Source: Help Keep Craft Alive, Fine Homebuilding
Inspiring the Next Generation of Craftsmen
To combat this shortage Fine Homebuilding has launched Keep Craft Alive, a campaign to help close the skills gap. It is partnering with industry organizations and influencers to build awareness of the skills training and educational opportunities that exist in this country and funding student scholarships to support those who want to pursue a path in the trades.
Perhaps most importantly, they are celebrating the value of true craftsmanship in all trades in order to influence the cultural narrative about what it means to be a respected, successful professional. You can join in by using their hashtag, #KeepCraftAlive, on Instagram and Twitter whenever you post with pride about your handcrafted home and follow them for more news and inspiring stories.
They are not alone in their quest though; This Old House has recognized the shortage in the industry – seven million job openings in the next eight years – and is also attempting to address the problem. They plan to use their platform to, “Inspire young people to go in to the building trades today, and see the impact throughout the home construction industry tomorrow.” Their recent cover-story highlights some inspiring people who are already pursuing the building trades young men and women who are getting the training they need to go the trade route and proud to be building hands-on careers.
In another story titled, Help Wanted, they describe how they have joined with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs to promote his MRW Foundation, intend to raise money for its 2017 Work Ethic Scholarship Program – which provides scholarships to people getting trained for skilled jobs that are in demand – promote scholarship application and encourage young people to master the vocational trades that built this country by bringing attention to them through its Generation Next campaign.
Finally, in our own niche of the industry there is a campaign to “Look Up” to roofers. The trade organization, Roofers Coffee Shop reminds us to, “give the hardworking men and women in this industry a moment of appreciation.”
They continue, “When someone looks up and sees a contractor installing a roof we want them to remember that the contractor is providing our homes and buildings the ultimate protection. Hearing about the pride a roofer takes in their work is inspiring. It is incorrect to think that roof application is not a craft that requires skill and training. Look up to the person you see on that roof, they had to put in the time to learn how to get up there and do the work properly. When you look up and see a roofer remember that they are building something in awkward positions at dangerous heights in difficult weather. Let’s not look down on a person that chooses difficult manual labor instead of respecting them for doing the jobs we don’t want or can’t do. When you look up and see a roofer remember there are easier and safer jobs they can do, roofers are roofers because they love what they do and choose to be there.”
– Roofers Coffee Shop, Look Up to Roofers campaign
Help #KeepCraftAlive, Choose Cedar
We can certainly speak to the pride in workmanship and love of the job our crew members have about their chosen field of work. Mike Malone, our Installation Manger has been a valuable member of the team since 1999. Mike enjoys assisting customers with their cedar roof questions and concerns and so, many times, he is the one you are likely to meet during a consultation for a real estate certification, roof inspection, installation or repair. Co-Owner, Brian Pott founded The Cedar Roof Company with childhood friend Jim Gadsby. While working in the industry they recognized that cedar shingle and shake roofs needed the same professional care of preservation as siding and decks and combined their knowledge of wood preservation with additional research to developed the region’s first solution for the preservation of cedar roofs. The Cedar Roof Company has very little employee turnover. In fact, all of our skilled craftsmen have been with the company for many years and are focused on installing cedar roofs 99 percent of the time.
No matter how you cast your vote, perhaps the most helpful thing you can do to assist the American worker and keep crafts alive and well is to hire American craftsman! Choose men and women who work with their hands to bring their talent, skills and experience to your job. And if there is one thing I think we can all agree on, it is the importance of the workers who make our homes and infrastructure safe, functional and beautiful, so let’s do what we can to ensure a beautiful future for the next generation!