Home Depot Invests $50 Million in Construction Worker Training
Last week, Home Depot announced a funding initiative to train 20,000 construction workers. One of the major problems the construction industry faces today is a lack of skilled laborers. Home Depot’s $50 million investment to the Home Builders Institute (HBI) is expected to go towards the training of veterans and soldiers soon returning to civilian life, high school students, and disadvantaged youths.
Following the Financial Crisis, residential construction employment declined by 1.5 million. Since 2011, only 786,000 jobs have been restored. Some workers have aged out of the labor force and others have changed vocations. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that 84% of contractors surveyed said availability of skilled workers and rising materials costs were their most significant challenges of 2017. With sustained buyer demand, new home construction is needed to replenish housing inventory. NAHB chief economist, Robert Dietz explained, “about 900,000 single-family homes are expected to be built this year, but there’s demand for nearly 1.3 million.”
Home Depot has already committed to donating $250 million over the next two years to provide housing for veterans. About 15,000 of the 20,000 trainees will be returning soldiers and veterans. The first group of 40 soldiers will graduate from the Home Depot-funded course at the end of March. Through the training, soldiers learned specialties like carpentry, framing, plumbing, and electrical work and are prepared to take jobs in the civilian world.
According to Home Depot CEO Craig Menear, 40% of the retailer’s revenue comes from plumbers, contractors, and other tradespeople. He expressed his company’s commitment to the construction industry in an interview. “It’s important that we support the trades.”
In addition to the Home Depot program, other home improvement retailers are contributing to construction worker education initiatives. Lowe’s has also announced an assistance program, pledging $2,500 to employees in Charlotte, NC, Pittsburgh, PA, Denver, CO, and Richmond, VA to complete online courses to prepare for a construction career.