Part of the mission of this organization is “…to build awareness of the skills training and educational opportunities that exist in this country.” And one of those opportunities is the International Builder’s Show (IBS), which starts this Tuesday at the convention center in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of Design and Construction Week, a partnership with the National Association of Home builders (NAHB), who puts on IBS, and the National Kitchen and Bath Association, who host exhibitors, attendees, speakers, and educators as part of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS).
While the output of this organization is a partnership with Skills USA and a scholarship fund with which we grant awards to students with an interest in pursuing a career in the trades, it is also our mission “…to celebrate the value of true craftsmanship in all trades in order to influence the cultural narrative about what it means to be a respected, successful professional.” While we have a voice and some reach, it is up to each of us, in our roles as craftsman, to help set and maintain a bar of professionalism necessary to meet this goal. And this is a process of lifelong learning, which is more important than ever. Consider some of the presentations that are being given at IBS this week:
The Future Home Experience: Technologies That Will Drastically Change the Way We Live
Description: The way we interact with our homes is changing every day and technology is playing a huge role in homes of virtually any size or price. Voice control is commonplace with Siri, Amazon and others. What’s next? AI, wellness, home energy management, smart everything? And with all this connectivity, what does it mean for privacy? Even on the horizon of five years, the way we live in and experience our homes will be vastly different for the majority of people. Join a panel of industry experts to hear what’s to come and how you can profit.
Pre-Selected, Pre-Ordered Design & A Pre-Paid Client: Is This the Future of Work for Builders?
Description: Startup and brand veterans Koda Wang and Luke Sherwin recently launched Block with an all-inclusive bathroom renovation sold like a consumer product. The company hopes to disrupt the billions of dollars spent by builders on unqualified leads by giving its contractor partners pre-paid clients, with pre-selected design and pre-ordered fixtures. They’ll discuss whether technology and digital pre-construction can change the way you do business.
3D Printing: A New Paradigm for Affordable, Resilient Housing
Description: What if you could download and print a single home in 24 hours for half the cost? Print communities of homes in weeks or months versus years? ICON, the construction technologies company that built the first permitted, 3D-printed home in America, has some paradigm-shifting ideas about how we could completely re-imagine home construction. You will hear from ICON co-founder and CEO, Jason Ballard, as he discusses what’s next for robotics, software and advanced materials to bring dignified housing to people throughout the world while solving for a plurality of problems including homelessness, affordability and resiliency.
With presentation like these shaping the building industry today, it’s no wonder that Fine Homebuiling’s editorial director thinks IBS is a must-have educational tool for today’s builders.
“The houses that we’re building today are more complicated than anything from 15 or even 5 years ago. That’s why right now our biggest priority as an industry has to be doubling down on our efforts towards building education,” writes Justin Fink, “As the largest trade show in residential construction, IBS provides an unparalleled opportunity to get face to face with manufacturers to learn the ins and outs of their products, discover what new science is guiding the details of our assemblies, and most importantly, network with other craftsmen to share insights, techniques, and hard-won lessons. This is how we ensure that quality building survives.”
While the names and descriptions of many of the programs are provocative and telling of the state of the building industry and the potential cusp of great innovation, as always, the show will include 100s of exhibitors and classes on everything from estimating to flashing windows, and every builder’s favorite, live demonstrations in the High-Performance Building Zone and the Jobsite Safety Zone, a new addition to the show this year.
It’s also hard to ignore the emphasis on the skills gap and labor shortage as seen in programs and events at both IBS and KBIS. You may have seen the invitation to attend our fundraising event. The Skilled Labor Fund will also be holding a fundraiser at the show. A partnership between NKBA, NAHB, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Housing Endowment, and SGC Horizon Building Group, the Skilled Labor Fund is an organization with a mission very similar to ours. They are mounting “…an industry wide effort to raise funds to address the shortage of skilled labor entering the residential construction market.
Fine Homebuiling Ambassador Shawn Van Dyke is giving a presentation called Hunting for Unicorns: Creating the Skilled Labor You Need by Attracting & Cultivating Talent. The description reads, “When looking for skilled labor, it often feels like construction business owners are hunting for unicorns—searching for a creature that doesn’t seem to exist. The skills gap has been growing for decades given the Great Recession, Baby Boomer retirement, and a younger generation not encouraged to pursue a career in the trades. This advanced session explores why construction companies must shift from “hiring for skill” to “recruiting for talent” in order to remain relevant in the coming years, and how to develop recruiting, hiring, and training practices that show Millennials a path and create opportunities along the way. Learn how to successfully attract and develop your own skilled labor force and what that means for the companies that don’t.”
And on the KBISNext stage there will be a panel discussion called Cheers for Trade Careers: Skilled Labor Discussion. With a few of our partners from This Old House, contractor and founder of KateBuilds Inc. Kate Campbell, and elite snowboarder and plumber Jonathan Cheever, the panel will share their personal experiences with the labor shortage, discuss ways the industry is coming together to tackle the problem, and share insights that you can put to work right away.
If you are not on your way to Las Vegas, or soon to get on your way, it is likely too late for you to attend Design and Construction Week this year. Consider perhaps, the value of attending next year. And keep in mind that as Andy Engel recently told us, this isn’t the only trade show in town. Perhaps there is a show closer to where you live. Consider attending, speaking, or exhibiting, depending on the nature of your work, and become part of this important and ever evolving conversation of what it means to be a professional builder today.