Home Depot, which sells tools and construction products, announced plans to invest $50 million to train 20,000 construction workers over the next 10 years in order to fill the growing skilled labor gap.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are currently 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. This number is expected to increase significantly as tradespeople retire over the next decade, Home Depot said in a statement, adding that the ratio of construction job openings to hiring’s, as measured by the Department of Labor, is at its highest level since 2007.
Last year, The Home Depot Foundation launched a pilot trades training program for separating military members in partnership with nonprofit Home Builders Institute (HBI) at Ft. Stewart in Georgia and Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. The first set of students will 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, which has a job placement rate of more than 90 percent, will now roll out on additional bases across the U.S.
“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 will expand training support to include the broader veteran community as well as underserved high schools across the U.S.
“HBI has a 50-year history of training individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the building industry. Our program prepares men and women for high-growth careers in the industry after leaving military service,” HBI CEO John Courson said in a statement. “With 200,000 service members separating from the military every year, our partnership with The Home Depot Foundation enables us to serve more veterans across the country.”