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Home Depot commits $50 million to training tradespeople

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Home Depot is looking to grow the rapidly shrinking labor pool of skilled tradespeople.

The chain announced Thursday that it will donate $50 million, through its Home Depot Foundation, to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years in an effort to fill the skilled labor gap. Last month, rival Lowe’s launched a pilot workforce program, “Track to the Trades,” aimed at providing financial support and career alternatives to its employees who want to pursue a skilled trade.

In a statement, the Home Depot cited a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics that said there are currently 158,000 unfilled construction sector jobs in the U.S. This is the largest shortage since 2007, according to the Department of Labor. And it’s not getting any better with more skilled tradespeople retiring.

In 2017, the retailer launched a pilot training program for military members who were transitioning to civilian life in partnership with nonprofit Home Builders Institute (HBI) at Fort Stewart, and Fort Bragg with the first set of students graduate this month.

The 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is provided at no cost to students, uses an industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program has a job placement rate of more than 90% and will now roll out on additional domestic U.S. military bases.

“We want to bring shop class back, from coast-to-coast,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. “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.”

In addition, The Home Depot Foundation is establishing an advanced level trades training program in partnership with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) for residents of Atlanta’s Westside community. Over the next 10 years, the foundation plans to expand training support to include the veteran community as well as underserved high schools across the country.

Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has committed about $250 million to communities impacted by natural disasters and veteran housing, including 37,000 veteran homes and facilities.

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Dollar General bolsters parental leave plan, adds adoption benefits

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Another retailer is expanding employee benefits as the nation’s job market continues to tighten.

Dollar General is introducing new paid parental leave and adoption assistance benefits, with the new policies effective April 1. The parental leave benefit includes two weeks of paid time off for all eligible full-time and part-time employees, with two extra weeks of paid leave for birth mothers.

Additionally, the company will provide employees up to $4,000 in adoption assistance.

Benefits are available to all eligible employees across the company’s more than 14,000 retail locations, 15 distribution centers and the corporate offices.

“These additional benefit build on Dollar General’s mission of Serving Others, and its operating priority to invest in its people as a competitive advantage,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO. “The paid parental leave and adoption assistance benefits will support our employees and their families with financial assistance during the exciting time of welcoming a child.”

The discounter is the newest retailer upgrading its paid leave policy. Earlier this year, Starbucks announced that its store associates who are birth mothers will be entitled to six weeks of paid leave at 100%, up from 67% average pay previously, as well as 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Non-birth parents (including fathers, spouses and foster and adoptive parents) can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Also, non-store employees (includes district managers, plant partners and headquarters employees) who are birth mothers will now have the ability to take up to 18 weeks of paid leave. Non-birth parents will have the ability to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Previously, those 12 weeks were unpaid.

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Target posts Q&A on its wage hikes

BY Marianne Wilson

On Tuesday, Target Corp. said it is raising its minimum hourly wage to $12 this year, starting with existing associates, part of the retailer’s previously announced initiative to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour by 2020. In a Q&A posted on its website, Stephanie Lundquist, Target’s chief human resources officer, discussed the wage hikes and what they mean for the company. Here are some highlights:

How did the team react to the announcement that wages were increasing to $11?
Overall, we received an overwhelmingly supportive response to our investment from team members, job candidates and the community. Our existing team members were excited about the move and even more enthusiastic about our commitment for the future. It also helped as we were hiring more than 100,000 seasonal team members for the holidays. The weekend after our announcement, which is one of our biggest hiring weekends of the year, we doubled the number of job offers we made compared to the year before. And we saw a significant increase in job applications throughout the entire holiday season.

How and when will the increase to $12 minimum wage go into effect?
Building on the commitment we made last fall, we’ll increase to a $12 minimum wage this year, beginning with our existing team members. For tens of thousands of team members, it will be their second significant wage increase in a six-month time-frame. And for all team members, a $12 minimum wage will be higher than the state-level minimum wage offered in all 50 states.

As a leader of the Target team, how do you think about where and how you invest?
We believe that taking care of our team members means investing in their whole selves. That certainly includes pay, but it also means giving them opportunities to grow professionally, take care of themselves, their families and each other and they are passionate about making a difference for our guests and their communities.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of paid training hours to develop our team members’ product knowledge and service skills and provide continuous learning programs. We’ve invested in wages and benefits so our team members can take care of themselves and their families. All of this is in addition to the benefits we offer our team members every day, like a merchandise discount, additional discounts for healthy product options, tuition reimbursement, industry-leading access to free counseling services and more.

What does it mean to you to make these kinds of investments in the Target team?
When we announced our wage increases last year, it was one of my proudest days at Target. I’ve worked in retail my entire career and have spent more than a decade at Target, focusing on how we take care of our team members and help grow their careers. I’ve traveled to stores across the country, talking to our team members, and I understand the impact that increased wages make on their ability to take care of themselves and their families. And for our team, it allowed us to say: we appreciate you, we care about you, and we’re investing in your future.

For the complete Q&A, click here.

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