Lowe’s using pre-apprenticeship program to attract top talent
Lowe’s is introducing Track to the Trades, an internal initiative that will offer financial assistance and counseling to employees who want to pursue trade careers. The move addresses the tight U.S. labor market’s impact on both retail and construction industries.
Under the program, eligible part-time and full-time employees will receive up to $2,500 in upfront tuition funding from Lowe’s to gain a certification and serve as a pre-apprentice in carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing or appliance repair careers. Pre-apprenticeships take approximately six to 10 months. Participants will also receive enrollment guidance and a be assigned a field mentor.
Participating employees will not be required to sign retention contracts or pay back tuition should they leave the company. The program is supported by Guild Education, an adult education company.
Track to the Trades will begin on March 1 in Charlotte, Denver, Pittsburgh and Richmond and will expand nationwide by the end of 2018.
The program comes as the U.S. unemployment rate remains at a 17-year low. Many retailers have been raising wages and providing other perks in part to increase their appeal to job applicants.
Lowe’s also noted that the skilled trade industry is experiencing a rapidly declining workforce. According to the Home Improvement Research Institute, more than 60 percent of skilled trade professionals agree that there is a shortage of labor in the construction industry. Lowe’s analysis of recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that the U.S. will experience a skilled trades gap of more than a half million jobs across construction related fields by 2026.
“The trade profession is a high-demand, high-opportunity field for the next generation workforce, and today, there is a massive unmet need,” said Jennifer L. Weber, Lowe’s chief human resources officer, in a statement. “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.”
- Lowe’s Commits To Developing Future Skilled Trades Workforce With New Employee Pre-Apprenticeship Program – Lowe’s
- Lowe’s Track to the Trades – Guild Education
- Cautiously Optimistic: Korn Ferry Survey Shows Retailers Expect Increased Sales this Holiday Season and Plan to Hire More Seasonal Workers – Korn Ferry
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will providing associates with support to pursue trade careers be an effective recruitment and retention tool for Lowe’s? Will the program likely support customer loyalty as well? Could tuition reimbursement and counseling for careers outside retail work for other retailers?