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Tackling the Industry’s Biggest Challenge: Labor

Glass industry business owners have much to worry about today: economic uncertainty, inflation and interest rates, supply chain interruptions, and more, on top of any number of day-to-day concerns. However, one persistent challenge is only getting worse: labor. 

The overall construction and manufacturing industries face a chronic shortage of labor. The construction industry will need half a million workers on top of the normal hiring rate to keep up with labor demand in 2024, and again in 2025, according to a model from the Associated Builders and Contractors. Manufacturing faces similar challenges. A study by Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturing reports that the ongoing shortage of skilled labor could lead to 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. 

“We hear every year, in every survey and at every conference, that labor is the number one challenge for fabricators, glaziers and full-service glass companies. It is the biggest pain point for the glass industry,” says Jenni Chase, vice president of workforce development for the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine’s publisher. 

To reflect this leading concern, the NGA revised its organizational goals to include Workforce Development, alongside the existing goals of Promote, Educate and Advocate. 

“As the industry’s association, it’s our responsibility to help connect potential employees with glass companies,” says Chase. However, the industry faces unique challenges. “Unlike the other trades, there is a lack of awareness among high school students and the public about what a glazier does. They know what an electrician does. They know what a plumber does. But not glaziers. We not only have to recruit people to the industry but we must educate them on what it is and the opportunities it offers.” 

Reaching high schoolers is a particular priority, Chase says. “We talked to companies, and they have identified high school students as the primary target audience. They are open-minded and they have the biggest opportunity for a long-term career. They can become very valuable to the company and the industry for 30 years or more,” she says. 

But how do companies get in front of high school students? As part of its new workforce development initiative, NGA has developed a free downloadable guide for companies: A Guide to Recruiting at High School Career Fairs. This how-to guide is available in the NGA store, along with stickers and postcards designed to attract student attention to the trade, available for purchase. Additionally, read how two industry companies are reaching high schoolers in Recruiting Young Talent in the Glass Industry.

The industry’s labor shortage is widespread and daunting. It’s up to all of us to spread the word that the glass industry is a place for fulfilling lifelong careers. 


Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin

Katy Devlin is content director for the National Glass Association and editor in chief of Glass Magazine. E-mail Katy at