It’s no secret that the wood flooring industry, like many other trades, is facing a shortage of skilled labor. Eighty-six percent of construction firms reported trouble filling available positions last year, and 93 percent of employers now cite hiring challenges as a barrier to growth in the coming year.
So who will carry on our legacy and become the next generation of leadership in our industry?
I’d like to highlight one of the many ways that you can make a difference: supporting the NWFA Education and Research Foundation (NERF) Scholarship Program. This program was established to help educate future generations of wood flooring professionals, and you can participate by contributing to fund scholarships. There are three different scholarship funds, each with different contribution levels:
- Industry Advocates Scholarship. Donations to the Industry Advocates Scholarship are used to fund general NWFA training scholarships. Contributions to this fund can be made in any amount.
- Legacy Scholarship. Two years ago, the NWFA established the Legacy Scholarship to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to our industry. This scholarship is one I am passionate about because it provides a meaningful way to honor those who have passed by allowing them to continue making a difference in advancing our industry. The idea came to me when a dear friend, Bob Haggard of Hassell & Hughes Lumber Co., left us much too early. It was important to me that Bob not be forgotten, and that his legacy would endure. Contributions in any amount can be made to the Legacy Scholarship fund, but to be recognized as a Legacy Scholarship honoree, contributions must total $5,000.
- Named Scholarships. Donations to Named Scholarships will be combined with other Named Scholarship donations to establish individual scholarships honoring innovators who made significant and lasting contributions to the industry. Contributions to this fund can be made in any amount, but a total of $20,000 must be achieved to establish a Named Scholarship. Current honorees include industry icons Edgar P. Anstett and Dick Hradecki.
Thanks to the generosity of our members, NWFA awarded nearly $6,250 in scholarships in 2016 and more than $100,000 total since the establishment of the program. More information about the honored industry leaders and the scholarships that have been awarded in their honor is available at nwfa.org/scholarships.aspx. To make a donation, simply go to nwfa.org, and click on the “Donate to Foundation” button, or contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556.
The NWFA knows that to tackle the skilled labor shortage, multiple modes of action are necessary. From the creation of the online NWFA University designed to reach a younger tech-savvy social generation to working with the Federal Department of Labor on an approved apprenticeship program, NWFA is working tirelessly on addressing this situation. I encourage you to check out An Industry Effort: Addressing the Skilled Labor Shortage that details what your association is doing, as well as more ways you can personally make an impact.
In closing, I’d like to thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chairman over the past year. It has truly been an honor. I encourage you to help us continue to advance the industry by improving wood flooring knowledge and hands-on skills for the next generation of craftspeople.