The Battle Of The Build has been going on for five years in the Tri-Cities. Teams from area high schools create a project of their choice and are judged.
In that time, the Battle has grown to 10 schools participating and it’s getting bigger.
These battles are not only great competition and team building. One of the founders, David Isaacs, says they’re also getting another generation interested in trades.
The Battle of The Build started as an outreach program.
“The entire goal of the Johnson City Homebuilder’s Association was to connect ourselves with the kids, teachers, and the parents, and show there was something to be had as a career in trades,” Isaacs said.
In five years it has grown along with the demand for trade jobs.
“I think the gaps are palpable,” Isaacs said. “I think you just have to look at yourself or anybody trying to call an HVAC contractor, plumbing contractor, they’re harder and harder to find. So, we just find it’s not a hard sell to say to the public or anybody that we need people in the trades.”
Those jobs are a great way to make a living for those who choose not to pursue a college degree and Isaacs says the skills learned are universal.
“It’s not always about the money. It’s about doing something you like, it’s about doing something that can give you purpose, and trades are wide open for that,” he said. “People in trades are begging for people to come work, apprentice, learn the skills. Those things are translatable in many ways in life once you learn them.”
He says the inspiration to take that path may come during events like the Battle of the Build. Isaacs recalls a student’s excitement to show off his hard work.
“I was walking up the aisle and one of the kids from one of the schools here locally drags me out of the aisle,” Isaacs said. “He is so excited to show me the outdoor pool table that he and school had built. He was so excited, and he went on to tell me how many screws it took to pour a level pool table within two pieces of paper accurate as far as how level it was. He didn’t just do that with me. But to just see somebody so excited about something they have created not only by themselves but with a team of people, that really does a lot.”
Isaacs says through this competition, he sees a bright future for those looking to pursue a career in a trade.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “From safes and refrigerators to truck bed pool tables and ‘grill-zebos’, to things you can hardly imagine. These kids bring it to life. They’re passionate, and their passion gives me some kind of hope that we have people who will ultimately be interested in doing the things that we kind of need in the future of the trades.”