Graybar Supports Skilled Trades, Workforce Development

The Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship is now in its fifth year.

I Stock 1396955856

CLAYTON, Mo. — Graybar recognizes the challenges its customers face in finding skilled workers. In 2023, contractors across the construction industry continued to experience worker shortages.

Over the next year, the construction industry will need to attract roughly half a million workers on top of its normal pace of hiring. The Associated Builders and Contractors projects the industry must attract an additional 454,000 workers in 2025.

“Graybar’s support of the skilled trades is all about strengthening our industry for the long term,” said Graybar Chairman, President and CEO Kathleen M. Mazzarella. “Our customers rely on a skilled workforce that can complete projects in a safe and reliable manner. As they face persistent workforce shortages, supporting skilled trades education is one way Graybar can be part of the solution.”

Graybar recently announced two ways it plans to support skilled trades education – the Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship and a $100,000 donation to JA Trades.

The Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship, now in its fifth year, supports up to 50 students per year with $1,000 scholarships. It is open to individuals who are pursuing a career in one of the construction trades. Students can apply for the Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship until April 15, 2024.

JA Trades, created by Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis, is a new program that will launch later this year. It will educate middle and high school students about career pathways in the skilled trades. The program features a 9,000-square-foot exhibit that will travel across Missouri, Illinois and parts of Indiana.

“Graybar has supported Junior Achievement for many years through volunteering, board representation and financial support,” said Lori Jacob, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis. “We are thrilled that Graybar added sponsorship of JA Trades along with their valuable input and advice on the student experience.”

The announcements, which Graybar shared in January, follow a long history of supporting the trades through industry associations, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

Mike Carroll, Director of Business Development at Graybar, chairs the NECA Premier Partner Council, a group of non-competing companies that work toward the advancement of the industry. Carroll is also part of the 2024 Development and Engagement Committee for ELECTRI International, a foundation established by NECA to fund, conduct and coordinate industry research.

“Graybar values its longstanding relationship with NECA and other trade associations across the industry,” Carroll said. “We have a long track record of supporting members and aligning our programs with the initiatives they value most. For years, Graybar has supported skilled trades education by donating time, materials and expertise on both national and local levels.”

The electrical training ALLIANCE, previously called NJATC, is a joint training program between NECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Graybar supports both students and instructors in the electrical training ALLIANCE.

“Many of the training centers purchase from Graybar because they know we can quickly get them the supplies they need,” Carroll said. “We donate the material, offer discounts, or work with our suppliers to provide things like scrap wire the students can use to practice their skills. In addition, Graybar offers a tool discount program for the students. When they graduate, we also provide them with a tool bag.”

Locally, Graybar branches across the United States offer their own support. Many employees attend meetings at local training centers, where they educate students about Graybar and a wholesale distributor’s role in construction.

Graybar provides similar support to IEC and ABC. Graybar National Market Manager Don Ferguson is on the board of the Independent Electrical Contractors Foundation, which provides grant funding and equipment to IEC training centers across the country.

“Contractors are extremely focused on attracting and training apprentices,” Ferguson said. “Graybar has supported trades education for a long time and is well-positioned to support the next generation of skilled workers. We’re proud to continue this work.”

In addition, Graybar consistently supports training across the industry. The company hosts webinars, podcasts, presents at conferences, participates in panels and even creates course content for trades program instructors.

“Graybar is proactively working to strengthen our industry,” Carroll said. “We’re not sitting back or shying away from investing in the next generation. Promoting careers in the skilled trades is an important piece of contributing to our customers’ future success. Graybar knows that when our customers are successful, we all win.”

More in Workforce Development