The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and power tool manufacturer, Festool, recently partnered for an interactive four-day event designed to attract new skilled labor into the wood flooring industry. Held in early October, the event was a one-of-a-kind educational experience that drew high school students from all around the region to NWFA’s Headquarters in Chesterfield, Missouri, to learn about careers in the wood trades.
The gathering featured a variety of hands-on demonstrations, networking opportunities, and information on how they could easily create a career path in the wood flooring industry. Students also had the chance to learn more about the NWFA’s “Wood Flooring Specialist” Apprenticeship Program, as approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program gives apprentices a path to connect with potential employers, discover careers in the wood flooring industry, and receive on-the-job training with related classroom instruction.
“The Festool Hands-On Event was a great way to attract new talent into our industry,” says Michael Martin, NWFA President & CEO. “We hoped to inspire and inform students about the many potential career options that exist within the wood flooring industry, including our apprenticeship.”
Kayleen McCabe, a general contractor, vocational advocate, and host of DIY Network’s Rescue Renovation, was also on-hand to inspire attendees to explore a career in the trades. McCabe stressed the fact that skilled trades are in high demand. At the same time, many students have a difficult time finding stable jobs that don’t require increasingly expensive higher-education degrees.
“The rising demand for trade professionals is outpacing vocational training. The skills gap is a real problem right now, and experiences, where high school students can learn both about the tools of the trade and profession itself, are tremendously empowering,” says McCabe. “Attendees were able to see for themselves that there are wonderful career opportunities out there in the industry waiting for them.”
Brent Shively, Festool’s North American Product and Application Trainer, believes in-person educational experiences are an ideal way to reach and inspire the next generation of tradespeople.
“Festool is currently traveling all over the country to get students to not only become aware of our products; but also to let them know about the many career opportunities that are available for them,” explains Shively. “Through an event like this, we show students that they can work with
good products, make good money, and have careers in rewarding fields like the hardwood flooring industry.”
DuraSeal, PowerNail, Electro Plastics Inc. (STEP Warmfloor), and Lockwood
Distributors were also on site to help educate students.