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From the Editor

Over the years, the one thing that has always been placed as a top priority by the masonry industry is locating, training and maintaining a quality workforce. No matter who you are, how big or small your business is, or what type of masonry services you provide, masonry — plain and simple — is a skilled trade that requires skilled workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), brick, block and stonemasons held 177,000 jobs in the year 2004. According to industry statistics, approximately one-third of these masons are at retirement age — just so this completely sinks in, that's approximately 59,000 skilled workers. To quote BLS: "In some areas there are not enough applicants for the skilled masonry jobs to replace those that are leaving."

Plus, on top of these 59,000 skilled masons that will need to be replaced in the near future, the BLS anticipates a gradual increase in the amount of masons needed each year.

We all need to keep in mind that one of the major things that separates masonry from most of the other building systems is the fact that a masonry building is one of quality, crafted by skilled masons. Pretty much anybody can pour concrete, and the quality of most concrete projects shows it. So tell me, friends, what will happen to your market share if masonry's quality diminishes because of a lack of trained, skilled masons?

This month, our main feature discusses the Mason Contractors Association of America's (MCAA) Workforce Development programs, specifically the Fastest Trowel on the Block and the International Masonry Skills Challenge (see page 20). These programs have been instrumental in showcasing some of the best and brightest apprentices and journeymen masons that our industry has to offer. Not only do these competitions give participants a place to shine, but they also get young people and mason contractors interested and involved in participating in the effort — whether it's to start taking classes, sponsor an apprentice, donating their time at the local level and more.

There are so many ways for you to get involved. It doesn't matter if you're a mason contractor, manufacturer, quarrier, supplier, teacher or another bricklayer. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can get involved.

Don't have much time to give? Then sponsor a "Check Out a Career in Masonry" recruitment kit for a local school. There are more than 17,000 high schools in the United States, and each one should have one of these kits in their guidance counselor's office.

Don't have much money to give? Then participate in the career days at your local schools, help out at a local training facility once a month, volunteer or donate supplies for the local competitions, or help a scout group with a community masonry project.

There's something for everybody, and — simply put — everybody needs to do something to promote the masonry profession. Get involved today!

Correction
In the August 2006 issue, we mistakenly identified the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference high school competition third place winner, Travis Smith, of Northeast Technology Center as being located in Beloit, Kansas. The school is actually in Afton, Okla. We apologize for this misprint.






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