Lowe’s commits $3M to skilled trades training

The Lowe’s Foundation will provide $3 million in apprenticeship grants to three national groups that provide skilled trades training in local communities, according to a Nov. 1 announcement.

The grants will support programs that prepare workers for their careers, including accelerated training, coaching and targeted workforce development in communities affected by natural disasters. 

Three $1 million grants will go to Goodwill Industries International, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

“We know that building bridges between workers and potential employers at the community level, combined with culturally relevant training and coaching support, is a highly effective model,” Michael Pugh, CEO of LISC, said in a statement.

“This grant will allow us to ramp up access to training in the skilled trades in places it has been historically lacking, and it will help lead hundreds of people into fulfilling careers,” he said.

The Lowe’s Foundation has pledged $50 million over five years to prepare 50,000 people for careers in skilled trades. The foundation gave $8 million to community and technical colleges in July and said it plans to announce its first cohort of community-based nonprofit grant recipients in early 2024.

As part of this grant round, LISC will fund 12 partners that offer industry-specific training, financial coaching, income support access and wraparound services to skilled trades job seekers, according to the announcement.

Goodwill will use the funding to support the Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator, a workforce development program that helps participants develop digital and job-ready skills, as well as pursue a career pathway in an in-demand industry position.

NCCER will use the grant to expand its Community Construction Academies based on community and workforce needs among underserved groups. The boot camp-style training programs will build on a tuition-free, rapid recovery construction training pilot funded by Lowe’s last fall, which helped to rebuild Southwest Florida communities after Hurricane Ian. As part of the program, participants can earn industry-recognized NCCER construction craft credentials.

“We see an opportunity to engage and train individuals to help with rebuilding efforts locally and provide opportunities for fulfilling careers in construction that can last a lifetime,” Boyd Worsham, president and CEO of NCCER, said in a statement.

Youth participation in apprenticeship appears to be rising, though diversity is still lacking, according to a recent report from Jobs for the Future. In traditional apprenticeship spaces, which are largely skilled trades industries, discrepancies stemmed from “exclusionary recruitment strategies that often failed to attract women and people of color and were heavily based on word of mouth,” according to the report.

At the federal level, legislators are trying to modernize the National Apprenticeship Act by giving funds to employers to create apprenticeship programs in new industries, as well as provide access to wraparound services such as childcare and eldercare. The legislation could support upskilling opportunities and create apprenticeships in manufacturing, cybersecurity, clean energy and other in-demand industries.