President of NASFA discusses different groups available to educate in steel framing.

I don't have to tell anyone in the construction industry about the labor issues facing us now and in the future, because they are keenly evident. Skilled workers for any construction trade, framing included, are hard to find and harder to keep. But let's look at some interesting statistics, anyway.

Carpenters, the largest group of building trades workers, held about 1.1 million jobs in 1998, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities for carpenters are expected to be plentiful through the year 2008, due primarily to extensive replacement needs; thousands of job openings will become available each year as carpenters transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports the opportunities for frame carpenters (vs. finish, trim, etc.) should be particularly good. Many builders use specialty carpentry subcontractors who do one or two work activities, so versatile carpenters able to switch specialties should have the best opportunities for steady work. And nearly one-third of carpenters were self-employed in 1998.

Why should we be concerned with these statistics? Two reasons:

? The industry needs skilled frame carpenters.

? A new generation of workers needs skills and good reasons to build a career in construction.

More specifically to North American Steel Framing Alliance is the need for skilled carpenters in residential steel framing. NASFA's member companies and the steel framing industry are in dire need of skilled steel carpenters in residential and light-commercial applications. Without skilled labor, steel framing will not achieve widespread use because it will remain too expensive to use; less skilled labor means a higher labor price tag per job. And new frame carpenters entering the workforce need skills across many work activities, including new materials and technologies, e.g., steel framing, because they will have the best chance for regular income--and a reason to choose and stay in their careers.

NASFA has spent many resources and time developing a skilled labor pool for steel framing. The National Training Curriculum has been written and implemented in training centers, vo-tech schools, and secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. The fundamentals of building with light-gauge steel framing are found in the NTC, which uses guidelines established in the Prescriptive Method for Residential Cold-Formed Steel Framing, the basis for the steel provisions in the building codes (CABO and IRC).


Now it is time to put the NTC into high gear. When training a whole new generation of steel framers, NASFA chose to support a large and highly acclaimed organization, SkillsUSA--VICA. Representing America's future high-performance workers, SkillsUSA--VICA is a national student-run organization serving 250,000 high school and college students and professional members who are enrolled in training programs for technical, skilled and service occupations.

Every June, SkillsUSA--VICA holds its national Championships event in Kansas City, Mo. NASFA sponsored the SkillsUSA--VICA Championships this year, as well as participated on the Technical Committee for the carpentry competition. As a result, approximately 50 percent of the materials used in the final carpentry competition were steel framing. Contestants used steel floor joists and steel studs for a partition wall in their final projects. With little forewarning that steel would be included, and just 45 minutes of general instruction on steel framing, tools and fasteners the day before, contestants were able to use the new materials with ease and confidence in their most important competition of the year.

By investing time and resources in this program, NASFA reached 75 new carpenters now entering the marketplace with steel framing skills, and more importantly, 426 carpentry schools across the United States that participate and train new SkillsUSA--VICA contestants and future carpenters. Because steel was used in this year's national championships, carpentry instructors will be incorporating steel framing into their curricula, in anticipation of its use in future competitions.

NASFA's strategic partners in this event include Dietrich Industries Inc., Grabber, DeWalt and American Tool Cos. They gave their time and donated materials and other resources to be involved in a program that teaches not only carpentry skills, but also emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work.

Contractors Institute in Florida

NASFA's training and education efforts on a regional level are also having an impact on the increasing need for skilled steel labor. A case in point: NASFA's National Training Curriculum was recently approved by the state of Florida for continuing education credits. With this important work complete, the Contractors Institute in Florida is now offering a two-day workshop, Fundamentals of Steel Framing, in its 2001 Continuing Education Program. Classes were scheduled for September, October and November this year. Based on

NASFA's training resources, the workshop will teach the skills and techniques required for framing with light-gauge steel in residential and light-commercial applications in a practical environment.

A very successful "train the trainer" program was held at the end of July in Tampa. With gratitude, NASFA would like to recognize Dietrich Industries Inc., Steel Construction Systems Inc. and Grabber, who donated materials and time above and beyond the call of duty.

Fram Building Group in Toronto

NASFA's Canadian office is working with a leading Toronto builder, Fram Building Group, and its partner, Apex Lifestyle Communities Inc., as well as the Universal Workers Union Local 183, Corrado Carpenter Contractor Ltd., Bailey Metal Products Ltd. and Dow Chemical. This team of builders, educators, contractors, and building suppliers and manufacturers has collectively facilitated the construction of two steel-framed demonstration homes in Weston Village, North York.

Corrado, a member of the Universal Workers Union Local 183, learned to frame these homes using steel through a union training program provided by NASFA and its member company, Bailey Metal Products Ltd. This regional training program is part of a much larger effort by the Local 183, whose members frame a majority of the homes in the Greater Toronto Area.

Skilled carpenters are needed in steel framing, as well as other materials. NASFA approaches this need by connecting industry with high-quality existing training programs that have adopted steel framing into their curricula with the help of the National Training Curriculum and other NASFA educational resources. NASFA places a great deal of importance on training and educating new and existing carpenters on the proper use of steel framing products and technology to get and keep skilled, high-quality workers in this field.

NASFA U.S. East Region

Maribeth Rizzuto,

general manager

(412) 922-3049

NASFA Canadian Office

Bill Kraft

(519) 686-1269