Magazine Media Member Spotlight: KeepCraftAlive

Q&A with Rob Yagid, Executive Director, KeepCraftAlive


Why did Fine Homebuilding create the #KeepCraftAlive program?
Fine Homebuilding created the #KeepCraftAlive program to respond to a critical and concerning trend in the home building industry.  For the past decade, specifically, the demands of the housing market have gone unsupported by the construction labor pool. There is a disparity between the amount of construction work that needs to be done in this country and the number of qualified skilled workers to execute that work. This disparity is called the skills gap and it has grown over the past several years due to numerous factors. The skills gap is causing profound economic and cultural disruption.

What is Fine Homebuilding and the #KeepCraftAlive campaign doing to combat the disparity between the employment demands of the construction industry and the shortage of trained labor?
At its core the #KeepCraftAlive initiative is about awareness. We strive to generate awareness of the skills gap and its far reaching impact in order to ignite action. To solve for the problem, people need to know about the problem. We’re leveraging all of our media channels to focus attention on the skills gap issue.  Additionally, there is still a flawed cultural perception that working in the trades won’t lead to success and fulfillment and won’t sustain an aspirational lifestyle. Over the nearly 40-year history of Fine Homebuilding we’ve found that to be completely inaccurate and aim to educate students and those in unfulfilling professions about the opportunities that exist in the construction field.  We support this aspect of the initiative with print and video content that celebrates those who have found success and fulfillment while building homes. We’re also taking more practical approaches to the solution.  We, along with our industry partners, fund an annual scholarship through SkillsUSA to support students who are interested in the trades. The scholarship fund allows studnets to continue their education and field training.

What is #KeepCraftAlive doing to encourage a more diverse group of people to learn construction-related skills?
With #KeepCraftAlive we’re changing the narrative around what it means to work with your hands. Trade work is not second-rate to any other profession, and often times offers a better return on education investment. It also comes with the tangible satisfactions and results often lacking in many other careers. That’s not to say the trades are for everyone. Building is tough and demanding and there are many who are not cut out for it. However, for those who show an interest and aptitude for building, we want to show our support for them. This new narrative is carried forth throughout all #KeepCraftAlive channels, but is also being conveyed through the Fine Homebuilding brand. An excellent example of this can be seen in the “Why I Build” video series the brand launched last year.

What can readers do to support this cause and help close the skills gap?
Readers can find out more information on the #KeepCraftAlive initiative and how to support the cause by going to www.keepcraftalive.org. The site is slated for a redesign in 2019 to keep pace with the growth of the program. It will be another exciting year for all who are committed to this issue.