Nearly 6,000 Houston-area students got the chance to “test drive” lucrative careers in the kitchen and bath industry this spring as part of BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tour, and half of them expressed high interest in one or more of the careers. More than 90 percent of the students reported positive views about the occupations.
These findings echo new NKBA research among a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students showing that the long-time stigma associated with the skilled trades is lessening.
About half of the students NKBA surveyed said they were receptive to at least one of the skilled trades, while fewer than a quarter expressed concern that parents or peers would view such careers negatively. Almost all said they have at least a few friends who are considering skilled-trade careers.
Key NKBA research findings include the following:
“Our industry depends on a strong pipeline of craftspeople to survive and thrive,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “Our national research, combined with our BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tours experience, tells us that our data-driven approach is working to attract the new talent our industry needs.”
Perceptions of Kitchen and Bath Careers by the Numbers
“We launched NKBA NextUp after feedback from our members revealed that finding skilled labor was the number-one concern for their businesses,” Darcy said, adding that even in the most recent Kitchen & Bath Market Index (KBMI) conducted in April 2020, lack of skilled labor still ranks as a business concern among members.
“The current economic climate notwithstanding, the pipeline for skilled trades has been in decline, largely due to the elimination of shop classes and vocational training at many high schools in the U.S. In that same time, the industry has evolved to attract young people who are tech-savvy, as well as more females.
“Based on how much home DIY activity is taking place now, we anticipate a post-pandemic surge in kitchen and bath remodeling activity when economic conditions ease,” Darcy said. “After all this time spent in our homes, families are keenly aware of improvements they want to make and our members will need the human resources to bring those dreams to fruition.
“Therefore, NKBA NextUp will be mobilizing our membership to provide information and introductions to our industry, including mentorships and internships.”
NKBA NextUp aims to recruit and empower a well-prepared workforce that will contribute to the future prosperity and vibrancy of the kitchen and bath industry. NKBA provides BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tours to schools at no cost and will expand to markets beyond Houston over the next two years–and possibly add virtual options–with the goal of impacting more than 24,000 high school students. For more information, visit www.NKBA.org/nextup.