The “Skills Gap” in the Trades is widening at alarming rates with the average age of workers at 55 and few young people entering the field.  The skills gap in the U.S. is substantial. The National Federation of Independent Business found that 45 percent of small businesses reported that they were unable to find qualified applicants to fill job openings in 2017.  CEO’s report shortages of workers for middle-class-wage jobs for 2017, which if unfilled, will slow business growth as well as U.S. growth. “–, April 2017 

With home building revving back up, more and more builders scramble to find skilled trade workers and subcontractors to get the jobs done. At the same time, growing up in a high-tech world, young people rank the skilled trades low among possible career paths. “The trades are kind of a lost art,” said Bryce Marie Johnson, HBA executive vice president. “The builders who are still in the industry are getting old, and their sons and daughters don’t tend to follow in their footsteps. Lots of industries are competing for skilled workers. They go into the IT world.” How can an industry that has struggled for so long find qualified, interested people to support its recovery? 

Building In Youth (BiY) is an innovative connection between the construction industry and students. Young people learn about different types of jobs available to them based on real knowledge of the trades. They learn about different aspects of the home-building industry, from safety on the job to how to use relevant tools of the trade. The experience and opportunity provided is an encouragement to low-income families in the area with a potential to boost the community.  By exposing students to construction trades early on the home building industry gains the passionate, skilled trade workers they so desperately need. At the same time, students gain access to a lucrative, fulfilling career path in onsite work that cannot be outsourced.

BiY motivates students (ages 16 to 24) to consider the construction industry as a viable career option once they graduate from high school. Working with adult mentors helps students learn how to handle barriers to successful employment, such as attitude, responsibility, and time management.  Students are encouraged to volunteer in their community by ‘giving back’ through the skills acquired from BiY training.


The unique program Building In Youth offers is unlike any other and focuses on six distinct areas:

  1. Provide opportunities for students to earn Service Hours for graduation and give back to their communities while learning skills for future employment
  2. Work together with other non-profit organizations
  3. Help organizations start mentoring programs through workshops on Safe Practices
  4. Present at organizations to expand the BiY donor base and encourage mentoring
  5. Seek foundation grants for ministry expenses
  6. Continue working with the local public and private schools

Beyond just earning their Community Service Hours required for graduation:

  •  Students discover their natural abilities and acquire real life skills
  • Build confidence in preparation to enter the workforce
  • Skill-sets learned on a construction site are transferable to work in other jobs (showing up on time, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork)
  • Student participation in building wheelchair ramps with their new construction skills
  • Students experience the value of teamwork as they work alongside adult volunteer mentors
  • Intergenerational relationships
  • Job satisfaction coupled with the appreciation expressed by the ramp recipients


Building In Youth is associated with:


  • Lower Columbia Contractors Association
  • Mentoring Works Washington
  • Institute for Youth Success (formerly Oregon Mentors)
  • Christian Association of Youth Mentoring
  • National Mentoring Partnership

Partnerships and Projects:


BiY worked with Snohomish High School on their Tiny Home entry for the 2017 CTE Showcase of Skills project.  (You may have read about it or seen the event on television.)  Twenty five different high schools and skills training centers built Tiny Homes for the homeless.  The event took place near the Capitol steps in Olympia to give the legislature and government authorities a chance to get behind the funding for future Tiny Home projects for homeless residents throughout the state AND support the return of vocational  training to high schools.

Each quarter, we present “Careers in Construction” to the C.T.E. students at Lower Columbia College.  Fifteen students from the class participated in constructing a wheelchair ramp for a retired veteran.  This was a first-time experience using power tools for most of them!


BiY has built a number of garden sheds for the Lower Columbia School Garden program.  Students from the different high schools in the area participate in the construction.  (Most recently, Toutle High School students were very proud of the shed they built for an elementary school!)






Investment through construction skill training

MAKES A DIFFERENCE for youth to become productive and focus on goals to achieve after graduation.

Thank you for your consideration to partner with Building In Youth!




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