As a labor shortage grips the construction industry and college degrees lose their luster, one company trains the next generation.
The U.S. construction industry is struggling to find workers in the skilled trades. According to the Home Builders Institute, there are more than 300,000 open positions. And the problem is only going to get worse—according to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, 40% of current construction workers are expected to retire within the next decade.
A major contributing factor to this growing problem is the perception of the skilled trades as “less than” the careers afforded by a traditional four-year college degree.
“Four-year colleges may be the traditional path after high school graduation,” said Jenna Arca, Director of Workforce Development at The Home Depot, “but those pursuing skilled trades can land a job faster, earn money while learning on the job, build a stable career and avoid taking on student loan debt.”
Skilled trades myths
One reason the skilled trades industry gets overlooked is the persistent myths surrounding it. Many believe the skilled trades offer lower earning potential, but the top earners in the construction field make more than $75,000 a year. In addition, many construction jobs offer an “earn while you learn” model where new hires are trained while earning a living.
Other misconceptions regarding the skilled trades include a belief that there’s no path to advancement, but Arca explains that the opposite is true. “There are continuous learning opportunities in the skilled trades via certification programs, on-the-job training, or both,” she noted. “And a high demand for skilled workers means you’ll always have a job.”
Need for education and a platform
Despite this demand, Arca says 94% of trades professionals struggle to find qualified skilled workers, according to a study conducted by The Home Depot. This led The Home Depot to develop a solution: the Path to Pro program, launched in July 2021, which offers free job training (Path to Pro Skills Program) and access to a networking platform (Path to Pro Network)for anyone interested in growing and pursuing a career in skilled trades like carpentry, electrical, or plumbing.
“Path to Pro provides students, parents, advisors and more with consolidated resources designed to help individuals better understand the career potential in the skilled trades industry,” Arca explained. “It offers training opportunities and acts as a K-12 trades education platform that can help guide graduating seniors in understanding how to build a career in the skilled trades.”
The Path to Pro Skills Program teaches basic skills like job site safety, basic tool knowledge and use, construction materials, team building and communication skills. It also offers career guidance and resume assistance.
With daily virtual, self-paced and instructor-led classes, people seeking a career in the trades can work through the program at their own pace and on their own schedule. Then, they can create a free profile in the Path to Pro Network to apply to open roles and connect directly with industry professionals looking to hire in their local area.
So far, the program has been an incredible success. “We’ve seen great responses and engagement with candidates and Pro customers starting to take advantage of the course, portfolio tool and networking opportunities,” Arca said. “To date, we’ve had over 2,000 people start the training and hundreds graduate.”
Arca encourages anyone interested in the opportunities offered by skilled trade careers to register for Path to Pro.“The Home Depot wants to help build your confidence during any stage of your career by providing a low-pressure environment to network with hiring trades professionals.”
Register for Path to Pro online at PathtoPro.com.