Hopefully you’ve had a chance to see this year’s up-and-comers featured in Hardwood Floors magazine’s “40 Under 40” list. The challenges faced today – from growing the market to solving the labor shortages – will continue with or be solved by incoming generations.
The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) is not alone in working to develop the next generation. In Naylor Association Solutions’ 2023 Association Benchmarking Report, it was found that 54 percent of associations see reaching and engaging young professionals as a top challenge. It highlights this outreach as being of key importance in a highly competitive job market.
Some ways associations are trying to engage with this demographic include events, scholarship opportunities, and groups targeted to young professionals. That aligns with initiatives NWFA has been doing for several years. NWFA’s Emerging Leaders Network was created to give young professionals a voice in the association and the wood flooring industry, and provide opportunities to connect and build relationships through education, networking, and close involvement with projects directly impacting NWFA’s leadership.
As you read earlier, the Emerging Leaders Council is doing great things with the student event at the NWFA Expo. This effort introduces the many opportunities in wood flooring to a new generation in each city we visit for Expo. Making an impression on just one student can light something in them that leads to a lifelong career in our industry. Solving the labor shortage won’t happen overnight, but we must start somewhere. Sharing the enthusiasm the “40 Under 40” have for their careers and the industry’s future is an excellent testimony for others to see.
Another way NWFA works to recruit and develop a highly skilled workforce was briefly mentioned in this magazine via Carlos Mongalo and the National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program (NFCAP). The NWFA Wood Flooring Specialist Apprenticeship Program, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides many benefits for businesses offering apprenticeships through the NWFA and for workers seeking apprenticeships in the wood flooring industry. For businesses, they can rely on NWFA for customized training, minimizing turnover, and applying for funding or tax credits. Workers receive on-the-job training, mentorship, and a competitive wage from day one.
It takes creative thinking and trying new things to increase the pool of new talent. And it can’t be done without established talent sharing their experiences and knowledge. Thank you to all of our industry veterans who take the time to do that at NWFA hands-on trainings, in Expo education and demo sessions, writing content in Hardwood Floors magazine, and more.
Is it the artistry? Is it the possibility of creating something that will stay in a home for 100 years? Is it the people? I challenge us all to think of the rewards of working in the wood flooring industry and ways to spread the word. To bring in new faces and to encourage those who are here already to stick with it. The industry’s future depends on it.
Emerging Leaders Network
NWFA Wood Flooring Specialist Apprenticeship Program