Mike Rowe, skilled trades advocate and former host of the television show Dirty Jobs, speaks about the importance of skilled trades in Iowa in Des Moines Sept. 28.
An Evening to Bring the Significance Back to the Trades highlighted the growing demand for skilled workers in Iowa, such as electricians, linemen and carpenters. Held at the Iowa Events Center, the event attracted more than 1,600 attendees and was organized by the HBA of Iowa, local HBAs and supporting organizations.
The event aligned perfectly with October’s Careers in Construction Month and the pressing need in Iowa and nationally for skilled labor in the home building trades, including inspiring a pathway for students and beyond to see the value of residential construction careers.
Speakers included television’s Mike Rowe and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R).
NAHB has been tracking the skilled labor shortage and promoting the importance, value and rewards of working in the skilled trades, particularly this month in articles and outreach to HBAs with resources including this resource on nahb.org detailing the median salaries of each trade and job openings nationally.
Mike Rowe (center, top row) poses with Iowa members during the state’s skilled trades event.
Public Appeal, Educator Focus
The well-attended event represented a concerted effort of industry leaders to connect with teachers and counselors, who in turn can encourage students to explore the trades as a career path. More than 400 educators and students were in attendance. The first 200 to register attended for free.
“Our goal was to have an event where educators and students were immersed in the opportunities our industry can provide for them either as an alternative to or in addition to college or trade schools,” said HBA of Des Moines EO Dan Knoup.
“We were able to create an environment that focused on what’s in the best interest of the industry and of the students. We are working to change a generations’ old narrative about who we are and what we do, and this night was huge step in that direction.”
“This is not a union or non-union issue,” Knoup told the Des Moines Register. “It’s not a bridge-builder or home-builder or commercial-contractor issue. We all need people to roll-up their sleeves and learn a trade.”
Tickets were $150 per seat or $1,200 for 10 seats at a 12-person table, and two seats at each table were donated to educators or students. Proceeds from the event supported both the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation and the Iowa Skilled Trades Academy, which provides pre-apprenticeship skills and training in fields specific to home building.
Getting the Word Out
The HBA of Des Moines, the HBA of Iowa and several partnering organizations did an excellent job reaching out to area newspapers and industry media to raise the prominence of the need for skilled trades and how they are both important and rewarding jobs.
Learn more about the event at iowaskilledtrades.com.