- Home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced a new learning initiative for staff members. Track to the Trades will provide career alternatives and financial support to help their employees pursue a skilled trade.
- The program will pilot in four cities, and expand by the end of the year. Included will be up to $2,500 in upfront tuition funding for trade certifications, academic coaching, placement opportunities for full-time pre-apprenticeships in the company’s contractor network and more.
- More than 60% of skilled trade professionals agree the construction industry is facing a labor shortage, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute. In the face of these shortages, the same report cites 40% of professional contractors are looking to expand their workforce. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Lowe's projects a skilled trades gap of more than a half million jobs in construction related fields within the next eight years.
Lowe's joins a host of companies working to address the skills gap in the trades with cooperative solutions. Trade schools are on the bandwagon as well, partnering with employers to recruit and showcase career opportunities in the industry. And in Detroit, government and community partnerships saved a high school from closing by adding skilled trades classes in the evening; another school is slated to open to meet demand.
It's estimated the construction industry lost 40% of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, approximately 2.3 million jobs. Apprenticeships and fast-track training programs are still struggling to meet demand and increase the available talent pool.
As a bonus, Lowe's training program could serve to attract talent in this tight labor market, especially in the retail space. Lowe's recently began to offer paid leave to its workforce, as well; benefits, especially those geared toward leave and professional development, can go a long way.