The Home Depot wants to grow skilled labor

The Home Depot has joined the ranks of industry heavyweights looking to grow the workforce and skilled labor pool.

Under its Home Depot Foundation, the world largest home improvement retailer is pledging $50 million to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years in an effort to fill the skilled labor gap.

In a statement issued by the company today, The Home Depot cited a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics that said there 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.

The company recently launched a pilot trades training program for separating military members 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."

"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," said HBI CEO John Courson. "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."

Numerous regional LBM associations and Lowe’s have made commitments to filling the labor gap through training. Last month Lowe’s launched its own labor development program called “Track the Trades.”

In addition to serving separating military members, 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.