Building Futures Foundation Focuses on Skilled Trade Training to Address Workforce Shortage

Building Futures Foundation (BFF) is a 501(c)(3) organization that has raised $333,750 and awarded 122 scholarships since 2007. The BFF is also addressing two problems with one solution.

The first problem we are facing is that middle and high school students are often shuttled through a one-size-fits-all approach to curriculum. The majority of high school curriculum focuses on the college pathway when only about 35 percent of students pursue this approach. The other 65 percent of students find themselves searching for sustainable careers that only require a high school diploma.

The second problem is that the construction industry has been suffering the brunt of an unprecedented workforce shortage. According to Construction Drive, a recent study indicates that the industry has a workforce gap of half a million workers. The shortage is being exacerbated by an education system that has overlooked skilled trade training in recent history, along with a generation of skilled trade workers who are aging out.

So, what does this mean for us? We need to grow our workforce. Our goal is to change this with a renewed focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the local school districts. BFF and local schools have recognized a common lifeline for students who do not pursue a college degree, which is the construction industry. Without the next generation of trade and skilled labor available, construction projects will screech to a halt.

Students often don’t know the success they can have in the industry. Annual earnings for skilled trades in Washington range from $60,000 for painters to $100,000 for plumbers. Skilled trades typically require some training through a technical program, an apprenticeship, or on-the-job training. Comparing skilled trade salaries to careers requiring a two- or four-year degree, it becomes even more compelling to join the future workforce.

BFF has taken an active role in supporting, sponsoring, and promoting CTE programs throughout Clark County. Skilled trades are critical to thriving communities and households. As of January 2024, BFF awarded Vancouver Public School Foundation a $120,000 grant to be used towards Hudson’s Bay High School’s new CTE building, a facility that will develop students to enter trades utilized in residential construction.

BFF has also partnered with Dozer Day®, an immersive experience with the opportunity to get behind the wheel of some of the largest machines the construction industry has to offer. Dozer Day® is also the perfect opportunity for students to connect with employers and learn about industry careers. Together, they serve the Vancouver location by hosting a Dozer Day® Career Fair (October 4th) that brings in high school students from all over Clark County and encourages students to network with construction businesses.

In addition to its work with CTE programs and Dozer Day®, the Building Futures Foundation raises funds and distributes scholarships that support training and tools for students pursuing skilled trades or starting their own small businesses. On February 23, 2024, BFF held its first annual Green Tie Gala that raised over $70,000. The event featured past scholarship recipients speaking on their experiences and how BFF scholarships, along with the industry, have propelled them onto brighter career paths and business opportunities.

BFF’s next fundraiser will be a prohibition-themed Casino Night on August 2nd, 2024, at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, WA. The annual event is open to the public. If you wish to attend, donate, or contribute to the scholarship fund, contact them at