The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) announced this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) will offer numerous panels, tours and events that showcase trade careers in the industry. KBIS is set for Feb. 19 - 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“The NKBA is striving to build awareness about the plentiful, lucrative opportunities within our industry, and provide the next generation of kitchen and bath professionals with knowledge surrounding skilled-labor careers,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “Our all-industry association celebrates the opportunity to pursue a multitude of paths in design, showroom sales, skilled labor and more.”

The NKBA, This Old House and the Skilled Labor Fund have teamed up again to honor the industry’s mission to inform brands, channels and educators about the numerous paths to success available in the industry. The “Cheers for Trade Careers: Skilled Labor Panel Discussion” will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 3 - 4 p.m. at the KBISNeXT Stage. This Old House heating and plumbing expert Richard Trethewey will moderate a diverse panel of experts who will be sharing their experiences on how the industry can get involved to address the skilled-labor shortage, according to NKBA.

Panelists include Norm Abram, This Old House master carpenter; Jeff Sweenor, This Old House contractor, Rhode Island Builder of the Year, and NAHB Custom Builder of the Year nominee; Kate Campbell, contractor and host of HGTV’s Custom Builder and founder of Build Women Up; Nathan Gilbert, former This Old House apprentice and the newest member of the Ask This Old House crew; and Jonathan Cheever, journeyman plumber, American Standard spokesman and Olympic and World Cup medalist snowboarder.

Eric Thorkilsen, executive chairman of This Old House Ventures, added, “We are honored to collaborate again this year with the NKBA to bring attention to our industry’s biggest challenge: closing the skills gap and encouraging young people to pursue a rewarding career in the trades.”

Leading up to KBIS, the NKBA, in partnership with This Old House Ventures’ Generation Next campaign, has set up a donation opportunity on the KBIS website that gives registrants the chance to donate to the Skilled Labor Fund. Any amount contributed is added to the registration fee to promote a seamless process, and 100% of the tax-deductible donations go toward scholarships and education programs through the Skilled Labor Fund, an industry-wide effort to raise funds to address the shortage of skilled labor entering the residential construction market.

Additionally, on Thursday, Feb. 21, the NKBA will host 150 high school students from Las Vegas-area high schools for a half-day program that will include stories from residential design and construction professionals. The event includes a panel discussion, led by Karl Champley, an Australian master builder, television personality and currently appearing on Ellen’s Design Challenge. Other participants include This Old House contractor Jeff Sweenor and This Old House TV Jamestown Project House apprentice Kevin Barker, plus other industry professionals who have chosen a trade career path over attending a traditional four-year college or university program.

“As an industry professional who took a different path to a successful career in this industry, the NextUp initiative is near and dear to my heart,” said Suzie Williford, chief strategy officer and executive vice president of industry relations for the NKBA.

Kerry Larnerd, director of career and technical education for the Clark County School District, added, “Our goal is to ensure that all students are provided opportunities to explore career pathways by engaging with industry partners in a variety of experiences. Having the opportunity to work with the NKBA has been exciting for our entire team. Students will be amazed at how the skills they're learning in the classroom can be applied to the kitchen and bath industry. We can’t wait to see how this partnership develops.”

Following the panel, students will meet NKBA executives and practicing designers, tradespeople and other industry professionals while touring the KBIS show floor. Each panelist will guide 15 students around the show, introducing them to the products, programs, people and technologies that are helping to change the face of the business.

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