Lutron: And one of those tangible ways you help contractors is the NECA Innovation Institute. Can you explain more about it?
TA: The Innovation Institute is a year-long program, culminating in a capstone project. Each candidate selects a unique capstone project tailored to make an impact in their company. One of my personal favorites was entirely centered around turning their company into a destination for sales professionals. The candidate saw an opportunity for innovation in people management—if the company became known for helping service pros thrive, it would more easily attract and retain top sales talent and improve sales metrics over time.
Lutron: Attracting and retaining talent is so important. How is NECA attracting more diverse talent to the field?
TA: This is a tremendous challenge. The number of pros retiring is outpacing apprentices coming in. NECA has several programs in place to address this. We run adopt-a-school programs and many NECA student chapters across the country to get students thinking about construction as a career. As kids, we all build things. Play, building, design, imagination—these are natural aspects of childhood, and we’re learning how to capitalize on that experience to say, “Hey, if you’re interested in building and problem-solving, you can do that as a job and make good money without a ton of student loans.”
We also support non-traditional paths to careers in the industry—veterans or people returning to the workforce after a hiatus—at both the national and chapter level. Additionally, conferences like the Women in NECA and our Future Leaders conferences help build the community. The powerful part of our DEI&B initiative is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’re thinking about how to make a wider field of candidates aware of the opportunities and how to ensure the opportunities that exist are conducive for diverse voices to thrive in. Not live with, not survive in, but thrive in.
Lutron: That’s so powerful. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today, Tauhira— it was an illuminating conversation.