One of the pillars of NARI’s strategic plan is workforce development, an item that NARI has been working on through its participation in SkillsUSA’s TeamWorks competition. SkillsUSA is a non-profit organization that enlists industry professionals and teachers as partners in preparing students in high school and post-secondary school for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.
NARI’s involvement in SkillsUSA dates back to around 2003, when the association started to send judges to oversee the TeamWorks competition. In the TeamWorks competition, a mason, a carpenter, an electrician and plumber team up to complete a project, such as a laundry room or small bathroom, building the space from the ground up, as well as dismantling the project at the end. Not only are competitors judged on skill and quality of work, but also, judged on pre-planning, a presentation of that plan to the judges before the building begins and how they worked together as a team.
To get to the National TeamWorks competition, participants must first win at their local, state and regional competitions.
This year, 42 teams traveled to SkillsUSA’s 48th Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo. The competition portion took place over a two and a half day period. Kansas City NARI members served as judges to the competition. We asked several of them to provide their perspective on the competitors and what this might mean for the future of the remodeling industry.
Mike Steed, CR, Steed Remodeling:
It was great to see how eager the kids were. I was surprised by the knowledge from the high school teams. I know in this area, we struggle to find younger people trained in skilled trades. But the other thing that surprised me was the wide variety of skill level. How is it that one team made it so far in the qualification process but then struggled to stay competitive against the other teams in the finals? This really showed how different programs are taught in different parts of the country.
I was also happy to see as many teams as I did. They were all excited to be there and showed a lot of pride in their work—something I’d like to see more of in the real world. It was good to see there’s a strong case for vocational schools. We won’t have to outsource all aspects of the building industry.
Mark Broeker, Phoenix Renovation and Restoration Inc.:
What continues to impress me is the level of commitment there is from parents, educators, students, sponsors, volunteers, etc. to participate in this rewarding event. It is refreshing to see that we still have young people wanting to develop a skill set that has lasting benefits and can be very rewarding in today’s service-minded society. I am thankful we still have programs across the country teaching young (and old) students a trade that is so important in today’s workforce.
I trust that our politicians and educators continue to support and fund these programs for generations to come as these participants (students) are in fact our future builders and fabricators of society. Another take-away, from a business owner’s perspective, or as a person in charge of project management, is there needs to be continued emphasis on communication and technical excellence. While all teams are to be complimented for a job well done—a number of teams excelled in working as a unit (roles and assignments clearly defined) and a good many more had great technical insight into the construction process reflected by the fact we received great questions from the floor dealing with specifications and/or design documents.
Scott Balentine, CR, CLC, Lifestyles Custom Homes & Remodeling Inc.:
I’ve been participating at SkillsUSA’s TeamWorks competition for the past five or six years. I’m always impressed with how well the kids do on the project—especially the high school students. The high school students do a good job at completing all aspects of the project. The TeamWorks competition does a good job of representing a broad perspective of the building and remodeling industry.
It’s always fun to watch how these projects come together. You can tell that some of the teams have done their homework and have really learned their trades. But it’s also fun to watch some of the teams that are really unsure of what they’re doing because of the creative solutions that they come up with to accomplish the task at hand.
If we forget about the trades in secondary and post-secondary schools, we’re in trouble. The kids that are participating are pretty energized and like what they’re doing. The students that take advantage of getting this type of hands-on exposure are getting a lot out of it.
To see photos from the 2012 TeamWorks competition, visit NARI’s Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/MeV8O1.