The Home Depot Foundation, a leadership arm for the company founded by Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank and with the help of Ken Langone, hammered down on its pledge to closing the gap among skilled laborers in America.
It announced Thursday it would commit $50 million to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years, starting with separating military members and veterans, at-risk youth and members of the Atlanta Westside community, in an effort to reduce the number of unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. Currently, there are 158,000 unfilled jobs in the sector, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects the total employment number of construction laborers to increase 10.5% by 2026. As FOX Business reported, many six figure jobs in the sector are going unfilled.
"We want to bring shop class back, from coast-to-coast," Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, said in a statement. "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."
The foundation launched a pilot trades training program last year for separating military members in partnership with the Home Builders Institute (HBI) – a nonprofit dedicated to providing education, career development, training and offers job placement services for the building industry – on Ft. Stewart in Georgia and Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. The first set of students will graduate this month.
A 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is free for students, uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Labor Department that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program has a job placement rate of more than 90% and will roll out on more military bases nationwide, Home Depot said.
"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."
Home Depot also said the foundation is establishing an advanced level trades training program in partnership with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia for residents of Atlanta’s Westside, which will expand training support to the broader veteran community and underserved high schools across America.