Keep Craft Alive: Brandon Patterson, Workforce Development Leader
This home-building advocate is dedicated to helping the next generation of construction professionals learn the skills they need to excel in the trades.
“Millennials want to work for something they believe in and for a company that cares about community, the environment, giving back, and social good.”
– Brandon Patterson, Workforce Development Leader, Des Moines, Iowa
At 90 years old, Brandon Patterson’s grandmother still opens up her plumbing-supply shop each morning. His uncle, who has helped run the family business, is setting his eyes on retirement. Brandon wonders what will happen when the doors to their three locations across Iowa no longer open. What about the dozens of contractors and families who rely on the stores for their livelihood? He wonders how the shuttering of another local business in a rural community will tip the economics of small-town construction. He’s concerned about who, if anyone, will pick up where they left off.
As the Workforce Development Leader for the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, and the cofounder of Iowa Skilled Trades—a coalition of industry professionals bringing awareness of skilled-trade opportunities and training to Iowa—Brandon spends his days actively working to organize and execute programs that teach the next generation skills that apply to a life in construction. Brandon believes the industry itself must shoulder the responsibility for the country’s shortage of skilled labor.
“We did not fight hard enough when they were taking shop class out of school,” he says. “We got complacent in our recruitment and outreach. We got lazy. We let other industries control our persona, and it decimated the numbers of potential craftsmen for multiple generations.” So each day, alongside partners from all corners of the industry, Brandon works to make visible the rewards of a life spent in the trades, and to make possible the learning opportunities that should never have been diminished.
—Rob Yagid, executive director, Keep Craft Alive
Photo: Courtesy of Brandon Patterson
From Fine Homebuilding #287