Skip to main content

Addressing Labor Shortages through Outreach

Actively engaging the younger generation on career opportunities in specialized fields like glass and glazing takes proactive engagement and education from industry leaders and stakeholders 

students at a trade fair

The lack of skilled labor—and too few younger people entering the trades—continues to be one of our industry’s greatest challenges. To help educate high school students on the benefits of the skilled trades and address misconceptions, Jodi Martinez, vice president of AllStar Glass and NGA board member, and Jenni Chase, vice president of workforce development for the National Glass Association, addressed the multifaceted approach that trades career events provide in fostering collaboration between industry and education. 

The Thirsty Thursday webinar “Recruitment Resources for Installers” explores how high school career fairs are a great way for companies to talk with students about post-graduation career paths, and illustrates how to use NGA’s new recruitment resources to make the most of career fair opportunities. 

Watch the full webinar

Community and industry engagement 

Sharing All-Star Glass’ experience with recruitment efforts, Martinez and her husband Dan became proactive in engaging with various community events, committees and school districts to raise awareness about career opportunities in their industry. “There was a lot of talk in our area about the workforce shortage, and while our company wasn’t having trouble or feeling that urgency, it was still a little concerning to hear,” says Martinez. “We started to get into it a little bit more, educating ourselves about the workforce shortage and what we can do about it in our community.” 

Educational outreach 

It’s a process, connecting with high school counselors to promote career opportunities in the glass and glazing industry. Chase explains that while academic tracks are well-known, career counselors may lack awareness of trade pathways like construction and glazing. Martinez shares her experience of initially reaching out to high schools through personal connections, involvement in local organizations, and social media, emphasizing the importance of persistence and patience when engaging with educators, as they have busy schedules and may not respond immediately. “Here’s what it looks like to be a glazier. Here are all the avenues in the glass and glazing industry for students to go after; there’s actually lots of opportunities in the manufacturing area,” says Martinez. “We’re spreading the message about our industry, that it’s more than just contractors installing glass.” 

Over time, consistent effort and networking lead to fruitful partnerships and opportunities to promote career pathways in the industry to the next generation workforce. “I don’t only focus on high school, but it’s an audience that’s up and coming, is easy for me to get into, and they’re eager to hear what we have to say,” adds Martinez. “We want to make sure they know that we’re out there, that this is a career path for them, and that they know what glass and glazing is all about, even though many of them are not necessarily making those final decisions about their career path.” 

Event participation 

Over the past three years, Martinez reflects on her experience participating in trades nights and engaging with high school students. Engaging setups, hands-on displays and attractive materials like stickers and postcards help to draw and educate students on the industry, and jump start those crucial conversations to attract young talent. “Kids, adults and even teachers just love the stickers,” says Martinez. “Postcards that talk about what a glazier is are great to hand out also. Essentially anything tangible that I can give away that promotes the industry.” 

With the varying sizes and scopes of events, Martinez also emphasizes the importance of being adaptable and prepared for different interactions. While the goal may not always be immediate hiring, the broader impact of spreading knowledge about the industry and its opportunities is invaluable—creating a positive ripple effect of sharing information and fostering interest in the trade among the younger generation. 

Getting started 

How does a glazing company participate in trades career events? What do you bring and what can you hand out to interested students? How do you tell students about the industry and the opportunities it provides? 

Industry stakeholders have a crucial role in shaping perceptions and educating the younger generation about career opportunities in specialized fields like glass and glazing. NGA offers free resources to help interested glaziers and fabricators proactively approach engagement and education. “Most people know what an electrician, plumber or HVAC technician does and the job opportunities available to them. The same cannot be said of glaziers,” says Chase. “Our guide and toolkit are designed to enable companies to easily and successfully educate high schoolers about our industry and pique their interest in the career path it offers.” 


Tara Lukasik

Tara Lukasik

Tara Lukasik is Managing Editor of Glass Magazine and Window + Door Magazine. Email her at