- Lowe’s announced "Track to the Trades," a new employee initiative set to launch March 1 in Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh and Richmond, Virginia that aims to provide innovative career paths and financial support for workers to pursue skilled trades careers. The program will provide upfront tuition funding for trade skill certification, academic coaching and support, and placement opportunities for full-time pre-apprenticeships in Lowe’s nationwide contractor network, according to a written statement.
- The program will expand to qualified Lowe's part- and full-time employees nationwide by the end of the year. Eligible employees can receive up to $2,500 to gain certification and a pre-apprenticeship in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing or appliance repair. Pre-apprenticeships will be six to 10 months, and participants will receive enrollment guidance and a field mentor.
- Track to the Trades aims to address the impending skilled trades gap of more than 500,000 jobs across construction-related fields by 2026, Lowe’s said, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, that the nation’s need for skilled tradesmen is increasing faster than the growth of employment. Home Improvement Research Institute data show more than 60% of skilled trade professionals say there’s a labor shortage in the construction industry.
Lowe’s is working toward educating employees in a tight employment market with this new skills education program and other initiatives, such as its augmented and virtual reality experiments. The company earlier this month said that it’s looking to hire more than 53,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, significantly more than the 45,000 in-store seasonal hires last year, which came amid corporate layoffs.
The moves come amid low employment in the U.S., rising wages (spurred not just by robust employment but also higher minimum wage requirements in many areas of the country) and a dearth of skilled workers in the construction industry.
Also early in February, Lowe’s announced a one-time bonus up to $1,000 for more than 260,000 eligible full- and part-time hourly U.S. employees across its stores, customer support centers, contact centers and distribution centers. The home improvement retailer said then it was expanding maternity and parental leave as well as adoption assistance. The bonuses, which came a week after the company’s board authorized a new $5 billion stock repurchase program, is on top of the home improvement retailer’s existing store-level bonus policy.