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Skip Lunch to Help Close the Gap on Worker Shortages

Skip Lunch to Help Close the Gap on Worker Shortages.

High school students and building industry leaders are working together to help grow skilled trades. 

The past decade brought extraordinary change to our country. An unprecedented shortage of skilled workers is undoubtedly one of the most significant. While supply chain challenges and raw materials shortages left their mark, a lack of human resources is perhaps the most critical impacting our country. The need for people is particularly evident in skilled trades. Recent 2022 data shows there are a whopping 650,000 open construction jobs. 

With so much opportunity and a generation of graduates reexamining traditional educational paths and corporate avenues, it begs the question, what’s keeping young people from pursuing skilled trades?

A recent article from Tech Education Magazine describes how “Stanley Black & Decker spoke to high schoolers, their parents, and professionals to learn more about the perceptions of trade careers. The data revealed key drivers of the skilled trades gap:

  • Misunderstanding of long-term financial security
  • Incorrect knowledge of required skills
  • Lack of exposure to those in trade skills careers
  • Observation of trades as a “male-dominated” industry

The survey results reveal a lack of education about the trades – in fact, less than half of young people have ever had a conversation about skilled trades careers with someone working in the trades. The findings uncover an important opportunity to close the perception gap and, hopefully over time, the trade skills gap as well.”

Students of Taylorville High School Building Trades Program in Taylorville, IL framing out the floor of the house they're building during this course.

A high school program in Taylorville, Illinois, is taking full advantage of that opportunity. The high school’s Build, Learn, Teach program aims to put trades in schools, teach high-performance building science and create hands-on experiences that give high school students the foundation for a career in skilled trades ranging from HVAC and plumbing to carpentry and building codes. While the program has existed since the 1960s, it has recently gained massive traction with the help of Building Trades Instructor Matt Blomquist.

Students showing a commitment to character and academics enjoy an opportunity to spend three hours per day on job sites outside of the traditional classroom environment. Matt explained, “Sometimes shop classes get a fluffy reputation. It doesn’t take long for these kids to realize that the work is often hard. It’s muddy. It’s cold. It’s hot. It’s not easy. They must learn that sometimes you do uncomfortable things before you see the reward or the ‘fun’ part.” 

Students from the Taylorville High School Building Trades Program adding siding to the house they're building as part of this course.

Despite earning a more rigorous reputation, the program is growing hand over fist. The Build, Learn, Teach program continues to gain momentum with students. It’s also caught the attention of industry leaders and organizations, like Sashco, who want to help champion the cause. “We’re so excited about this innovative and cool program not only because it gives students a hands-on opportunity to try out every aspect of a residential build, but it also propels the industry as a whole by helping to teach good, solid, building science that will benefits generations ahead of us,” said one Sashco team member. 

The #SkipLunchChallenge is one example of how Sashco and others in the building industry have partnered philanthropically with Build, Learn, Teach to help further the program’s mission. The idea behind the #SkipLunchChallenge is to simply skip lunch out for one day and instead directly donate those funds to support an organization like Build, Learn, Teach. To learn more or to contribute to the Build, Learn, Teach initiative, visit our webpage at sashco.com/skiplunchchallenge/.

Do you know of an exceptional program helping to grow the skilled trade or construction industry? Nominate them for our next #SkipLunchChallenge here or on our Facebook or Instagram page. 

#SKIPLUNCHCHALLENGE

Our #SkipLunchChallenge helps raise money for trade education programs by challenging you to donate your lunch money instead of going out. Trade experts Matt Blomquist, Travis Brungardt, and Jake Bruton are collaborating to identify organizations for us to spotlight.