Survey Reveals Students Receptive to Kitchen, Bath Careers

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — The long-time stigma associated with careers in skilled trades, including those in the kitchen and bath industry, is diminishing among high school students, according to new research conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

The NKBA announced that research conducted this year among a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students revealed that about half the students 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 those surveyed said they have at least a few friends who are considering skilled-trade careers, the NKBA said.

According to the NKBA research, the top perceived benefits of a kitchen and bath career are “the opportunity to be the boss, to build a business, help clients, and to create plans and designs.” Interest was nearly equal between male and female students, although females demonstrated a higher interest in careers where greater design work is involved and males are slightly more interested in the potential for business entrepreneurship, the NKBA said. Smart home and AV/security specialty trades rank near the top in appeal among all the skilled trades, noted the Hackettstown, NJ-based association, whose survey was conducted in late March, when most respondents were under stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Even at that time, more than three-quarters of those surveyed agreed with the statement that these skills would ‘always be in demand’,” said NKBA CEO Bill Darcy.

The NKBA has been actively involved in a “NextUp” program, aimed at attracting young talent to careers in the kitchen and bath trade. The program, among other components, encourages NKBA-member firms to provide information and introductions to the industry, including mentorships and internships.

“We launched NKBA NextUp after feedback from our members revealed that finding skilled labor was the number-one concern for their businesses,” Darcy said. “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 U.S. high schools. In that same time, the industry has evolved to attract young people who are tech-savvy, as well as more females.”

NKBA also provides “BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tours” to schools at no cost and said it will expand to new markets, and possibly add virtual options, with the goal of impacting more than 24,000 high school students. Additional information can be obtained by visiting NKBA.org/nextup.

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