Interest levels in skilled trade careers are almost as high among female high schoolers as male high schoolers, according to the Skilled Trade Candidate Attitudinal Assessment study conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Remodeling and renovation careers are the top-ranked careers for females, and smart-home technology, audio, video, and security installation careers garner the highest interest among males, according to the study.

The study found that high school class and training programs, social media, and home improvement project work at home were the greatest sources of initial interest for high school students. One in five respondents cited "learning a skill" and "good pay" as the top perceived benefit of entering a skilled trade career. Conversely, 22% of students cited "hard physical work" as the top drawback, while 12% of respondents said skilled trade careers did not offer "enough money." Respondents indicated their top preferred learning methods were field trips to local businesses, one-on-one days at worksites, and career days.

The study also provides insights on high school students' level of interest in skilled trades compared with other careers, the best time to expose students to the benefits of skilled trades, the most appealing job characteristics to high school students, and favored training methods of high school students.

The 2020 Skilled Trade Candidate Attitudinal Assessment study surveyed over 550 high school students in grades 9 through 12 who are considering entering qualifying trades after graduation. The report assesses the level of interest as well as sources that initially led to interest for both male and female students, seeking to identify top perceived benefits and drawbacks and motivating factors that can lead to next steps. The full study also delves into the awareness levels of various recruiting methods and preferred avenues of engagement to learn more about opportunities in the skilled trades.

The NKBA has dedicated more resources to the recruitment and empowerment of a younger workforce, and launched the NKBA NextUp program in early 2020. The program plans to approach the industry labor shortage in three ways: by creating hands-on experiences that introduce high school students to design and construction, by changing the dialogue about career paths to younger people, and by connecting interest to action through NKBA's network. As part of the NKBA NextUp campaign, the NKBA developed the BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tour to introduce high school students to careers in the kitchen and bath industry. The BridgeYear/NKBA Career Tour program was designed to bridge the knowledge gap about trades by providing students with 15- to 25-minute, hands-on simulations intended to emulate a traditional career fair. The first event was hosted in Houston, with nearly 6,000 high schoolers participating and half of participants expressing high interest in one or more industry careers.

The full 2020 Skilled Trade Candidate Attitudinal Assessment study is available for purchase from the NKBA.