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Lowe’s to help pay for employees’ trade skills education

BY Marianne Wilson

Lowe’s is launching a program to take on the worsening gap in trade skills in its job pool as the U.S. labor market continues to tighten.

Beginning March 1, the home improvement giant will kick off a pilot workforce program, “Track to the Trades,” aimed at providing financial support and innovative career alternatives to its employees who want to pursue a skilled trade. Lowe’s projects the country will experience a skilled trades gap of more than half a million jobs across construction-related fields by 2026.

The program will debut in four cities: Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh and Richmond. It will include:

• Upfront tuition funding for trade skill certification.
• Academic coaching and support.
• Placement opportunities for full-time pre-apprenticeships in Lowe’s nationwide contractor network or continued growth with Lowe’s.

By the end of 2018, Lowe’s plans to take the program nationwide, offering it to all qualified Lowe’s part-time and full-time employees. Eligible employees will receive up to $2,500 to gain a certification and serve as a pre-apprentice in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing or appliance repair careers. Pre-apprenticeships take roughly six to 10 months and those in the program will also be given enrollment guidance and a field mentor.

“With Track to the Trades, we are providing unique career alternatives for our associates while also building a pipeline for the next generation of skilled trade workers, allowing us to better meet the demands of customers while creating long-term educational benefits and economic opportunity for our people,” said Jennifer Weber, chief human resources officer, Lowe’s.

The Lowe’s program is supported in partnership with Guild Education, an education network for working adults.

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