With a looming workforce shortage of 1.6 million skilled craft workers, contractors must ensure they are doing everything they can to keep the ones they already have. The 39 gold, silver and bronze 2014 National Craft Championship winners prove that by sending a competitor to the annual competition, you can create excitement among your trainees and encourage them to hone their skills, work safely and be proud to be a part of your training program. “Training for the National Craft Championships has helped me slow down and better evaluate the job and the fire system. Being in the competition itself was a confidence boost; it was a good way to show my bosses that I am good at what I do and have the motivation toward bigger and better things,” said Paul Gibson of Piper Fire Protection and 2014 fire sprinkler gold medalist. For those of you who have never experienced the National Craft Championships , it’s a two-day competition that challenges the best of the best in of merit shop apprentices and craft trainees and gives them the opportunity to show off their skills. But the competition also gives ABC members and chapters the opportunity to put their craft and safety training to the test in the hopes of having one of their trainees walk away with shiny medals around their necks. “The competition benefits our members by pulling—not pushing—the students to be their best and by laying out clear standards for what is best. It helps the chapter by providing a method for monitoring the students’ grasp on the skills and processes, and it helps the industry by preparing our students to perform their work in a safe and professional manner,” said Michael Wall, education and training committee chairman of the ABC Baltimore Metro Chapter whose student, Justin Witowski won the gold medal in the HVAC competition last year. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this event. Send one of your apprentices or trainees to compete March 3-6, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by submitting an intent to compete form by Dec. 1.For more information, visit www.nationalcraftchampionships.org .