By John McGrath, Director, International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL)
Across the floor covering industry, there is a skilled labor crisis, and we’ve known it for some time now. The industry is losing trained, experienced installers at an alarming rate. Some have said the industry is simply not doing enough recruiting and training to replace them. The Associated General Contractors of America reported that 83% of its contractors stated they are having difficulty finding qualified, skilled labor to meet the demand.
Perhaps one of the most pressing reasons why the industry needs to more actively recruit fresh blood in the field is for the sake of our customers – the people who will actually walk on the floors we install every day. Having unskilled laborers working on highly technical jobs can prove to be disastrous for both dealers and customers. Improperly installed floors are a nightmare and often require expensive repair or replacement. Damages aside, underqualified workers can also ruin the solid reputation of a good dealer, and that’s something that can’t be repaired as easily as a floor.
While much of the floorcovering industry is experiencing a skilled labor crisis, the customers working with INSTALL have not been affected. For many decades, the International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL) has implemented cutting-edge apprenticeships, recruitment, and career training programs.
A Growing Interest in Continued Training
Our apprenticeship programs are enjoying record-breaking enrollment. In fact, there are currently 4,500 men and women enrolled in, or entering into our programs. Our apprenticeships and trainings are part of the $250 million per year Carpenters International Training Fund, which works alongside the highlyrespected UBC Department of Education & Training to develop the training curriculum. This rigorous program rivals a university-driven career path. Overall, our programs have grown 32% since 2012 – a startling number when you consider the shortfall of labor felt elsewhere in the industry.
The programs we have developed address a number of issues facing the floor covering industry. We have developed an outreach program for high schools students, and work alongside Helmets to Hardhats in support of their mission to assist veterans transitioning back into civilian jobs. INSTALL also participates in the Sisters in the Brotherhood program, which recruits women for apprenticeships and mentors women working in the trade offering higher-level training programs for more seasoned workers.
Is Education the Solution to the Labor Shortage?
In order to create a sustainable future for the floor covering industry, we need to entice new workers into the field. One of the most effective ways of doing that is through hands-on training and education.
Training is at the foundation of the INSTALL program. Our mission is to provide the best trained professionals to serve our customers and the floor covering industry. While journeymen hard skills are a core training component, we recognize that career professionals require soft skills (leadership, communication, productivity, attitude and economics) as well. This combination of hard and soft skill training teaches installers that they play an important role in their own success and that of their employers, and customers.
We are committed to developing installers into reliable career professionals. Through them, we are continuously raising performance standards through career building and training. INSTALL firmly believes that continued education, outreach, and recruitment are essential tools for knocking down labor shortages. How else will the next generation of floor coverers, installers, and contractors learn about the trade? The only way to gain more skilled laborers is to create more.
Expanding Our Reach & Elevating Standards
To expand our reach and offer better education to contractors, we recently expanded our comprehensive training offerings into the booming construction market of Texas. According to Dodge Data & Analytics, Texas project activity climbed from $57 billion in 2012 to $80 billion in 2014. This makes Texas a prime location for INSTALL – it is a hub of construction activity, which indicates that there is also a need for skilled workers. Through the rigorous training and certification program offered at the North Texas Training Center, INSTALL seeks to elevate the standards of quality in the floor covering industry by granting Texas contractors access to unparalleled education resources.
We are also expanding our reach to other areas of North America to provide solutions to the problems threatening the good health of the floor covering industry in the U.S. and Canada. We have the resources, capabilities and commitment to provide industry-driven and manufacturer-endorsed curriculum and training, a network of trained and trusted installers, industry specified and manufacturer-endorsed installation certifications and superior and dependable dealers.
INSTALL is a welcoming alliance and quality conscious customers, specifiers, manufacturers, dealers and installers are invited to join together. For more information about INSTALL’s services, please visit www.installfloors.org.