Shortage of labor. Hiring challenges. A need to expand the workforce.
These are some of the major challenges the home improvement industry has been faced with for years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s need for workers in the skilled trades industry is increasing much faster than the growth of employment overall. Lowe’s analyzed this data and projects the country will experience a skilled trades gap of more than half a million jobs across construction-related fields by 2026.
To help combat this growing challenge, Lowe’s announced it will be launching a new program focused on investing in employees and the skilled trades industry. Beginning March 1, Lowe’s will kick off “Track to the Trades”, a pilot program aimed at providing innovative career alternatives as well as financial support for employees who want to pursue a skilled trade. The program will be supported in partnership with Guild Education, an education network for working adults.
The program will debut in four cities: Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh and Richmond. Through the initiative, Lowe’s is offering employees:
- Upfront tuition funding for trade skill certification
- Academic coaching and support
- Placement opportunities for full-time pre-apprenticeships in Lowe’s nationwide contractor network or continued growth with Lowe’s
“With Track to the Trades, we are providing unique career alternatives for our associates while also building a pipeline for the next generation of skilled trade workers, allowing us to better meet the demands of customers while creating long-term educational benefits and economic opportunity for our people,” said Weber.“The trade profession is a high-demand, high-opportunity field for the next generation workforce, and today, there is a massive unmet need.”—Jennifer Weber, Lowe's Chief Human Resources Officer
By the end of 2018, Lowe’s plans to take the program nationwide, offering it to all qualified Lowe’s part-time and full-time employees. Eligible employees will receive up to $2,500 to gain a certification and serve as a pre-apprentice in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing or appliance repair careers. Pre-apprenticeships take roughly six to 10 months and those in the program will also be given enrollment guidance and a field mentor.
“Lowe’s is leading the way on pre-apprenticeship models that prepare employees for jobs of the future, both while working at Lowe’s and beyond in their careers,” said Guild Education CEO, Rachel Carlson. “The education pathways offered by Lowe’s eliminate the all-to-common false choice between trades programs and advancement in higher education. At Guild, we’re honored to be working with the Lowe’s team on this first-of-a-kind partnership.”