A look at NKBA’s recast program and other events that address the skilled-labor crisis at KBIS 2019. By Loren Kessell
The skilled labor shortage affecting all facets of building and remodeling, including the kitchen and bath industry, is growing. To help tackle the well-documented dearth of workers in these fields, NKBA has teamed with This Old HouseVentures to raise awareness and money for the Skilled Labor Fund at KBIS where the association will unveil its own effort, dubbed “NextUp.”
‘“The NKBA is striving to provide the next generation of kitchen and bath professionals with knowledge surrounding career paths in skilled labor, design and related professions, and to build awareness about the plentiful opportunities in these areas,” said NKBA CEO Bill Darcy, who sits on SLF’s operating committee. “As the kitchen and bath industry’s leading association, it’s vital that we take the lead with initiatives like NextUp, and partner with other like-minded organizations, to ensure a well-prepared workforce will contribute to the future prosperity and vibrancy of the business.”
Starting on the first day of the show — Tuesday, Feb. 19 — on the KBISNeXT Stage at 3 p.m., TOH heating and plumbing expert Richard Trethewey will moderate the Skilled Labor Trades panel. A diverse group of panelists will share their experiences and the challenges they face surrounding the shortage, and ways the industry is uniting to attract new, young talent to the construction and remodeling fields.
Panelists include Norm Abram, This Old House master carpenter; Jeff Sweenor, This Old House contractor, Rhode Island Builder of the Year, and NAHB Custom Builder of the Year nominee; Kate Campbell, contractor and host of HGTV’s Custom Builder and founder of Build Women Up, and Nathan Gilbert, former This Old House apprentice and newest member of the Ask This Old Housecrew.
“We are honored to collaborate again this year with the NKBA to bring attention to our industry’s biggest challenge: closing the skills gap and encouraging young people to pursue a rewarding career in the trades,” said Eric Thorkilsen, CEO of This Old House Ventures LLC.
Cheers for Trade Careers, a reception with co-hosts Darcy; Suzie Williford, EVP of NKBA Industry Relations and Chief Strategy Officer; the This Old House crew, and Thorkilsen follows the panel from 4 to 5 p.m. Industry peers will network and discuss how to bridge the gap between young professionals and skilled labor careers.
Then, on Wednesday from 2:30 to 4 p.m., join Abram, TOH general contractor Tom Silva, other TOH crew members and apprentices for a special fundraiser benefitting SLF. This fun event, with beer, music and prizes, will take place in the Show Village Silver Lot.
Registration is required, and 100 percent of the $50 ticket price will be used to support the next generation of skilled-trade professionals. To register and purchase tickets, click here by 4 p.m. on Feb. 18.
As part of the NextUp program, on Day 3 (Thursday), the NKBA will host 150 high school students from the Las Vegas area for a half-day skilled labor program. This includes a panel discussion with industry pros, lunch, a tour of the show, and networking opportunities with NKBA executives and practicing tradespeople to learn about the lucrative and creative job possibilities offered by a career in skilled trades and related K&B professions.
Attendees may donate to the Skilled Labor Fund when buying tickets to the SLF fundraiser as well as when they register on the KBIS.com website. Any amount of the tax-deductible contribution is added to the registration fee.