In the fall of 2018, SkillsUSA joined Generation T (“Gen T”), a national movement that Lowe’s Home Improvement officially launched on April 25. The goal of Generation T is to address the widening trade gap and inspire a new generation to consider skilled trade careers. Committed to rebuilding and changing public perceptions of the skilled trades in America, Generation T seeks to drive enrollment in skilled trades education and build a pipeline of workers to offset the anticipated gap of three million jobs by 2028.
Lowe’s chose SkillsUSA to help with this effort because SkillsUSA membership is a critical link to success in the workplace — whether students plan to go to work after high school, earn a technical certificate, attend community college or a four-year university, or enter an apprenticeship program. SkillsUSA is working to attract more students into construction, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and appliance repair programs, focusing on students in these trade areas in.
Rose Bowl Bunk Bed Build
HEADLINE: Generation T Bunk Build takes over Rose Bowl Stadium
SUBTITLE: 300 SkillsUSA students, volunteers construct beds for Sleep in Heavenly Peace
CATEGORY: Serving Communities
TAGS: Skilled Trades
BY: Samantha Pence
Three hundred SkillsUSA student members worked alongside volunteer instructors to build 100 bunk beds in front of the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium, creating a unique visual for an industry suffering a major shortage – skilled trades.
While the skilled trades shortage affects the entire country, its impacts are great in California. The construction industry in California has lost nearly 20 percent of its workforce over the past 11 years, according to a study released by Buildzoom. Even more staggering is the fact that nearly 40 percent of construction jobs posted in the state remained unfilled after six weeks, the third-longest in the country.
To help close the skilled trades gap, Lowe’s launched Generation T, a movement that offers skilled trades career and training opportunities, in partnership with more than 60 national organizations. Part of Generation T also includes immersion events, allowing students to gain additional exposure to skilled trades through hands-on experiences.
Lowe’s and Generation T hosted the Generation T Bunk Build in one of California’s most prominent spots, the Rose Bowl Stadium. Charles Thompson, former vice president of human resources at the Rose Bowl Foundation, played a major role in bringing the event to life.
Thompson wanted interns working in the sports and entertainment industry to understand all the jobs it takes to make events successful. Several roles within a stadium have a skilled trades need, especially related to plumbing, electrical and HVAC. When he came across Generation T, Thompson felt compelled to reach out. He wanted to be part of introducing students to the trades, an industry where they can own their careers.
Additional students from local Pasadena- schools that had never been introduced to skilled trades joined the build too.
Generation T partners Timberland Pro, Samsung, SkillsUSA, and the Rose Bowl Foundation worked together to host the event. Lowe’s provided tools and materials to build the bunk beds which were donated to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that works to address child bedlessness. Some bunk beds were distributed to Pasadena families immediately following the event. Others were loaded on trucks and traveled 10 hours north, designated for families impacted by the Camp wildfire last year. Tuft and Needle and Serta donated the mattresses and bedding to accompany the 100 bunk beds.
“We feel very passionate about our mission and have found that others do as well, so we are providing a way for communities to be involved and directly help those children in need,” shared Luke Mickelson, executive director of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. “We discovered that after tragic events, like the Camp Fire, families are forced to start all over and when all the relief efforts and funding has dried up, beds for their children are sacrificed for food and clothing. We started the disaster relief program to help families with beds for their children months and even years after these disasters occur.”
The participating SkillsUSA students are on a carpentry track, meaning students are completing carpentry career and technical education (CTE) courses in local high schools, in addition to completing the SkillsUSA Framework components. Once their CTEs are completed, these students will receive industry certification. Carpentry careers are expected to grow by at least eight percent in a 10-year time frame, with trade school and apprenticeship graduates boasting a high degree of employability.
While they are the exception, fewer than ever graduating high school seniors are choosing a career in the skilled trades. While the trades provide an alternative to a four-year degree with opportunities in a stable and high-paying career field, research shows that students and their parents continue to see the trades as filled with low-paying and low-brow jobs.
Chris Coleman, a student from Montecito High School, shared that he went from having no interest in the trades to finding that “it was a match made in heaven” after meeting his SkillsUSA instructor Nick Jones.
In fact, Coleman was one of just four students in his chapter who were selected to build an arboretum at the SkillsUSA headquarters this summer. Coleman used that passion for skilled trades during the Generation T Bunk Build.
To learn more about Generation T and how you can get involved, visit wearegenerationT.com.