The Home Depot is looking to grow the rapidly shrinking labor pool of skilled tradespeople.
The chain announced Thursday that it will donate $50 million, through its Home Depot Foundation, to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years in an effort to fill the skilled labor gap. Last month, rival Lowe’s launched
a pilot workforce program, “Track to the Trades,” aimed at providing financial support and career alternatives to its employees who want to pursue a skilled trade.
In a statement, the Home Depot cited a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics that said there are currently 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. This is the largest shortage since 2007, according to the Department of Labor. And it’s not getting any better with more skilled tradespeople retiring.
In 2017, the retailer launched a pilot training program for military members who were transitioning to civilian life in partnership with nonprofit Home Builders Institute (HBI) at Fort Stewart, and Fort Bragg with the first set of students graduate this month.
The 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is provided at no cost to students, uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program has a job placement rate of more than 90% and will now roll out on additional domestic U.S. military bases.
“We want to bring shop class back, from coast-to-coast,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. “We’re thrilled to train 20,000 next-generation plumbers, electricians, carpenters and beyond. It’s a true honor to welcome our first classes of separating soldiers as they transition to civilian life and into successful careers in the trades.”
In addition, The Home Depot Foundation is 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 plans to expand training support to include the veteran community as well as underserved high schools across the country.
Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has committed about $250 million to communities impacted by natural disasters and veteran housing, including 37,000 veteran homes and facilities.