Changing the Conversation about the Skilled Trades

Workforce Development
Contact: Greg Zick
AVP, Workforce Development
(202) 266-8493

March is Women’s History Month. Throughout March, NAHB’s workforce development team will highlight women in the construction industry and how to recruit and retain women in the trades. 

Career exploration begins at an early age. Now more than ever, HBAs and members are reaching out to schools, and community and workforce organizations to lead and support careers in construction programming. Mollie Elkman, owner and CEO of Group Two Advertising, is one industry leader who found a way to introduce children to the various jobs in the home building industry, including land development, product design, interior design, landscaping and other career paths.

“It is hard to change the conversation about careers in the skilled trades once perceptions are formed,” said Elkman. “For example, at the kindergarten level, you don’t talk to children who like math just about becoming an engineer. You say, ‘There are so many cool things you can do with your life if you love math.’ You show them that all skills are important.”

Her life slowed down during COVID restrictions, which paved the way for her to realize one of her dreams of writing a children’s book and publishing it through NAHB’s BuilderBooks. The children’s book, supported by 84 Lumber, aimed to highlight all the career opportunities in the home building industry.

“The House That She Built book is targeted at children at that entry point, to show them that there can be something for everyone, that different careers are possible for people with different educational backgrounds,” Elkman said.

The She Built Foundation recently launched to support entry-point classroom programming and help industry professionals get out into their communities to share their stories with children. Elkman is working with NAHB’s workforce development team on a certificate program for the Boys and Girls Clubs partnership and an industry-wide initiative in collaboration with the foundation to distribute her book to non-profits free of charge.

Elkman spent her formative years learning about industry marketing. As a child, she accompanied her father, Richard Elkman, to visit model homes and attend the International Builders’ Show. She has garnered awards throughout her career, including NAHB Sales and Marketing Professional of the Year and NAHB Professional Women in Building’s Member of the Year.

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