Skilled labor challenges continue for the wood flooring industry. More than 60 percent of respondents to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and Hardwood Floors magazine’s 2024 Industry Outlook survey stated that filling critical positions remains difficult, particularly in finding qualified installers. One of the ways NWFA members suggested mitigating the problem is through apprenticeships and increased training in high school and community colleges.
Enter Carlos Mongalo as someone actively coming up with solutions. He is the program director for the National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program (NFCAP), headquartered in Miami, Florida. We first introduced you to Mongalo on Hardwood Floors’ 2021 “40 Under 40” list, and a lot has happened with his organization since that time.
NFCAP is an industry-recognized apprenticeship program registered with the United States Department of Labor. The goal is to set a standard and train a new generation of flooring tradespeople to become professionally certified. They partner with Job Corps, which offers free education and vocational training to youth ages 16 to 24, as well as similar organizations.
“We try to find students already in construction trades and do a presentation about the flooring industry to let them know there’s an opportunity,” explains Mongalo. “The interested ones go through a six- to eight-week pre-apprenticeship to get a feel for it and see if it’s something they want as a career path. For those who commit, we look for local contractors in the market who have a healthy company where a student can grow and someday become a manager. We place them in those companies, and they start their apprenticeship.”
Apprentices then receive training from associations such as NWFA, the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), and others throughout their apprenticeship period.
NFCAP is an industry-recognized apprenticeship program registered with the United States Department of Labor. The goal is to set a standard and train a new generation of flooring tradespeople to become professionally certified.
“The students interested in the wood flooring industry are placed with contractors NWFA recommends to us that have an apprenticeship program. We help them get to certification and show them that NWFA is the way to learn all of the best techniques,” says Mongalo.
NFCAP now has three training centers located in San Marcos, Texas; McKinney, Texas; and Treasure Island near San Franciso, California. These facilities include classrooms, training stations, and equipment. Mongalo says local manufacturer representatives visit to share how they got into the industry and to train students on their products and equipment. He hopes to open two more training centers in 2024.
The mission is personal. Mongalo is a second-generation flooring contractor and laughs as he recalls riding on his dad’s buffer across floors when he was five years old. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA, he started a flooring company. He says he made good money, making it possible to invest, grow, and dream. However, he remembered it was hard to get started, and it was on his heart to help others find a career path as flooring contractors – not only to fill the labor needs, but also to bring diversity to the trade and the opportunity to break the cycles some youth may face.
“I see this more as ministry than business for me. They live in a certain environment, and maybe they’re stuck in it, but you always find those who want to prosper. They want more in life, and those are the individuals we are seeking. We’ll find the resources for them to succeed,” says Mongalo. “You can take the horse to water, but can’t make them drink. So, being there for the one that wants to drink the water is what we do. We are ready to help and save as many lives as possible.”
To learn more about NFCAP, call 888.225.6233 or visit NFCAP.ORG.