Big Box Stores Act to Ease Construction Labor Shortage

March 8, 2018

There are not enough skilled tradespeople to fill the construction jobs available right now, but simply walking on to a jobsite or in to a union hall doesn't help either the worker or the contractor. Trade-related basic skills and hands-on experience are the prerequisite for getting hired into entry-level jobs. Getting those first-level skills has been the stumbling block that has created a gap between those who are ready and willing but not yet  able and employers looking for skilled help.

To help bridge that gap, Home Depot and Lowes have announced financial support for new adult training programs for individuals seeking a job in the construction industry.

The Home Depot Foundation is donating $50 million to train 20,000 skilled tradespeople in the next ten years.

Some of the funding will go to the Home Builders Institute to continue its pilot training program for returning veterans. Launched in 2017 at Fort Stewart and Fort Bragg, the first 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program graduates its first class this month. The program uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. This year, the same program will be rolling out on more military bases in the U.S.

The Home Depot Foundation is also establishing an advanced level trades training program in partnership with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) for residents of Atlanta’s Westside community. Over the next 10 years, the Foundation will expand training support to include the broader veteran community as well as underserved high schools across the United States.

Lowes has announced Track to the Trades, a new workforce development initiative that aims to provide innovative career alternatives and financial support for employees to pursue a skilled trade.

Working with Guild Education, Lowes is making pre-apprenticeship training available to employees in Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Richmond. Eligible employees will receive up to $2,500 to gain certification and serve as a pre-apprentice in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing during a six to 10-month program. Following the four-city pilot program, Lowes expects to expand the training nationwide.

“The trade profession is a high-demand, high-opportunity field for the next generation workforce, and today, there is a massive unmet need,” said Jennifer L. Weber, Lowe’s chief human resources officer. “With Track to the Trades, we are providing unique career alternatives for our associates while also building a pipeline for the next generation of skilled trade workers, allowing us to better meet the demands of customers while creating long-term educational benefits and economic opportunity for our people.”