Home Depot Foundation Fights Skilled Labor Shortage

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Robison Wells
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The Home Depot Foundation announced its next phase of a $50 million pledge to train 20,000 skilled tradespeople by 2028. They’re partnering with Home Builders Institute to implement youth trades training for high school students in at-risk communities.

They see this as a win-win: by working to combat the shortage of skilled labor in the trades, and by serving disadvantaged communities, they’re killing two birds with one stone.

The first phase of the program was to work with the Home Builders Institute to train former members of the military as they transition to civilian life. Started in eight locations, with two more planned, the program has an enrollment of 555 so far, with an estimated growth to 700 by the end of the year.

The Home Depot Foundation is no stranger to community outreach. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $315 million in veteran causes and improved more than 45,000 homes and facilities for veterans in 4,300 cities.

“After a successful year of rolling out our military trades training program with Home Builders Institute, we’re excited to announce the expansion of our joint program into high schools across the U.S.,” said Executive Director Shannon Gerber of the Home Depot Foundation in a released statement. “With the open job rate increasing every month, this work is important in the short- and long-term, and we’re proud to provide an on-ramp for these students into a career in the trades.”

Their youth training program, with pre-apprenticeships for 11th and 12th graders, is available in 25 high schools in nine states.

The housing industry has been severely impacted by the lack of skilled labor. According to National Association of Home Builders, 82% of home builders expect labor shortages to be their number one problem this year. The Association recently wrote “To put it into perspective, just 13% of builders cited labor issues as an important concern in 2011, with a rate steadily rising over the ensuing years and peaking at 82% in each of the last three years (2017-2019)."

The Remodeling Market Index also reported severe shortages in labor, including:

85% carpenters - rough

84% carpenters - finished

81% framing crews

71% bricklayers and masons

58% electricians

The RMI also reported how the shortages are affecting their business:

78% higher wages/subcontractor bids

72% higher prices for customers

67% difficulty completing the projects on time

53% turning down some projects

Commercial construction is seeing comparable problems.

“Our goal is to offer the best possible training program for people interested in exploring a career in construction, which is why we’re proud to partner with Home Depot Foundation in our high school initiative,” said Ed Brady, president and CEO of Home Builders Institute in a statement.

“In order to provide the highest quality training,” Brady said, “each program will be supported with a two-year PACT curriculum [Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training], classroom enhancement, updated tools and equipment, and construction materials for a hands-on training environment.”

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