The Home Depot Foundation announced the next phase of its $50 million commitment to train 20,000 in the skilled trades by 2028. They’re teaming up with Home Builders Institute to implement youth trades training for high school students in underserved communities.
By working together to reverse the shortage of skilled labor, their partnership will open more than one point of entry to careers in the building trades for America’s concourse of talent.
A case in point, last year the Home Depot Foundation collaborated with Home Builders Institute on the first phase, a trades training program to support separating military members as they transition to the civilian workforce. Commenced in eight locations, with two more set to open in the first quarter of 2020, the program has had an enrollment of 555 so far, and will eclipse 700 by year end.
Known for collaborative strategies and partnering on a national level, the Home Depot Foundation improves the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, fills the skilled labor gap by training for the building trades and supports communities impacted by natural disasters. As part of its mission, since 2011 the Foundation reports having 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 trades training, with its pre-apprenticeship curriculum, will be available to students in the 11th and 12th grades in approximately 25 high schools, at least initially, across the nine states of Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The Foundation plans to learn and adapt after the outset, in order to scale their youth trades program most effectively on the ten-year timetable.
That Roar Of Approval Is From The Real Estate Industry
One industry that stands to gain over the next decade from trades training aimed at reducing the labor gap in construction-related business is real estate. When there is sufficient skilled labor, real estate markets are positively impacted, as are the opportunities for real estate agents, residential mortgage lenders, affordable housing developers and public housing commissions, to name a few who, at their core, need product.
Consider the housing industry. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), as documented in a 2019 NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, 82% of home builders expected labor shortages to be their number one problem this year. In their news blog, NAHB 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).”
In another 2019 study, the NAHB surveyed their remodeler members for the Remodeling Market Index (RMI), which reported significant shortages of labor for specific occupations, including:
- 85% carpenters – rough
- 84% carpenters – finished
- 81% framing crews
- 71% bricklayers and masons
- 58% electricians
The RMI survey also reported the leading effects of how labor shortages affect remodelers’ businesses:
- 78% higher wages/subcontractor bids
- 72% higher prices for customers
- 67% difficulty completing the projects on time
- 53% turning down some projects
Commercial real estate is similarly influenced by shortages of construction and logistics workers. In July 2019, the NAIOP Research Foundation published a commissioned report which, among several of its conclusions, magnified a pressing need for the construction and logistics industries to invest in training and recruiting high school students.
One segment of the real estate economy not to be overlooked in the beneficial buildup of a skilled workforce is the online marketplace for home improvements and services. With digital-conduit business models connecting homeowners to home repair professionals, and vice versa, these companies should feel relief and inspiration in knowing there’s a tangible effort underway to create viable supply lines of future contractors.
Over the next decade, in the upper levels of thought leadership within the real estate industry, might there be new philanthropists with capital and ideas to contribute toward filling the middle-skills gap in the 21-century construction workforce?
A Bandwidth Partner
Home Builders Institute has built up its bandwidth to serve the workforce development needs of the building industry. As the nonprofit educational and job-training wing of the NAHB, the Institute has been punching in for decades, promoting the trades, no matter the health of the U.S. economy and the policies that impact it.
Through its certification programs, pre-apprenticeships, curriculum development, textbooks, mentoring and job placement services, Home Builders Institute prepares its students — displaced workers, justice-involved youth and adults, veterans, transitioning military and high school students — for successful careers in construction.
“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.”
The Home Depot Foundation’s $50 million philanthropic commitment will cover programmatic matters such as tools, equipment, salaries and capacity building, to allow the partnership to grow and sustain programs for high school students and military over 10 years, in order to achieve the ambitious goal of training 20,000 in the building trades.