Building Skills The number of people needed to fill construction jobs is expected to increase exponentially over the next 10 years. To thwart the predicted shortage of skilled trade workers, the U.S. Department of Labor, the NAHB, and several other construction industry organizations, including the Construction Industry Roundtable, are working together to promote “Skills to Build America's Future,” an initiative to attract young people to careers in the industry.

The project is designed to make people aware of the correlation between skilled trade workers and the national economy and to inform them about training, education, and apprenticeship opportunities. The NAHB and its partners will reach out to local governments, trade schools, and others to encourage young people to consider careers in skilled trades.

A Domestic Dispute A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel determined that lumber producers in the United States are not threatened by Canadian trade practices. The ruling is an important win for affordable housing, free trade, and millions of domestic lumber consumers already beset with soaring prices.

In May 2002, the International Trade Commission said that the U.S. lumber industry was threatened by Canadian lumber imports, which allowed the U.S. Commerce Department to impose countervailing and antidumping duties averaging 27 percent on some Canadian lumber shipments into the United States. But NAFTA said the domestic lumber industry's threat allegations had no merit.

With lumber prices now at $451 per 1,000 board feet—up some 40 percent from the beginning of the year—NAHB president Bobby Rayburn says the panel's decision couldn't have come at a better time.

Scholarship Fund Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation and the Home Builder's Institute (HBI) are partnering to establish the HBI Lowe's Building Careers Scholarship Fund for Job Corps graduates.

The fund will provide financial assistance to program graduates who are completing training and looking for their first professional job. Lowe's is contributing $50,000 to initiate the fund. HBI, the development arm of the NAHB, has trained Job Corps participants in an array of fields in the building industry for 30 years, including carpentry, landscaping, and plumbing. It places more than 2,000 program graduates in industry jobs each year.

Green Houses The NAHB celebrates 30 years of advances in green home building in 2004. Green building, the construction of resource-efficient, environmentally sensitive residential homes, may be one of the most significant developments in home building to surface in several decades. The practice has become a quiet phenomenon in the home building industry in recent years—more than 32,000 green homes have been built around the country since 1990. Green building improves a community's quality of environment, produces more energy-efficient homes, and reduces home maintenance costs.