More than 60 organizations announced on April 25 Generation T (“Gen T”), a movement intended to help fill the skilled trade gap that analysts predict will leave 3 million jobs open by 2028. Led by home improvement retailer Lowe’s Companies Inc. the movement creates a path to grow talented tradespeople.
Through support from industry leaders, Gen T aims to shift the societal perception of the trades by demonstrating the economic mobility possible, exposing children to trade education early and encouraging students to explore career options beyond four-year degree programs.
Gen T also connects prospective skilled trade professionals to apprenticeships and jobs through the WeAreGenerationT.com .
According to IHS Markit, the construction industry is slated to experience stronger wage growth than the rest of the U.S. economy, but a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders revealed that 69% of its members were experiencing delays in completing projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers, while other jobs were lost altogether.
This disconnect can be attributed to a retiring workforce and unfavorable perception. According to Lowe’s research, high school students believe pursuing a career in the trades would make them seem boring, while adults feel it would make them seem talentless.
“We believe the professional trades are an essential part of America’s future,” said Jennifer L. Weber, executive vice president, Human Resources, Lowe’s. “We’re committed to opening that path to those who relish the challenge of creating something out of raw materials and take pride and satisfaction in mastering the skills required to do it. We’ve seen the success that can result from empowering people with a skilled trade through our more than 1,350 associates currently enrolled in Lowe’s Track to the Trades program. If we don’t fill the existing skilled trade gap, our businesses, homes and communities will suffer.”
Below are examples of how Generation T partners are taking action and generating awareness in skilled trades:
- Lowe’s introduced Track to the Trades, a workforce development initiative to provide career alternatives and financial support for Lowe’s associates interested in pursuing a skilled trade. Track to the Trades, launched in February 2018, has more than 1,350 Lowe’s associates enrolled and participating in pre-apprenticeships. Programs include carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing and appliance repair. Lowe’s helps facilitate job placements at the company or within its national network of contractors.
- Southwire Company is dedicated to training and supporting the next generation of apprentices. In the year 2018 alone, Southwire Solutions University trained over 700 apprentices in their facility. Along with training and support, Southwire annually donates products to apprentice schools all across the country.
- Timberland PRO, a brand providing safety footwear and work apparel for the trades, launched a new campaign in fall 2018 to help change the perception of the trades. Titled Always Do. Never Done., the campaign showcases men and women in a heroic way working in epic outdoor settings. The goal is to inspire the next generation of workers and also change perceptions about the doers of the world.
- Marshalltown sponsors trade institutions, programs, and contests through their Tools for Schools program, helping to ensure quality tools are in the hands of students nationwide. In addition, Marshalltown is donating a portion of the profits from their children’s book series, Marshall T. Trowel and Family, to promote high school vo-tech education. For more information, visit MARSHALLTOWN.com.
- The Bosch Community Fund is providing scholarship opportunities for students who demonstrate interest in the trades and attend one of six northwest Chicago suburban high schools. The program, developed in partnership with the District 214 Education Foundation, gives students who pursue a trade career the chance to earn a scholarship that will fund a community college career certificate program.