Lowe's has come out swinging in the war for talent with a new campaign to fill millions of skilled trades jobs

Lowe's employeesBennett Raglin/AP Images

  • Lowe's is partnering with 60 other businesses and organizations for a campaign to promote the skilled trades.
  • This "Gen T" initiative will launch a national online marketplace for jobs, apprenticeships, and education programs.
  • Lowe's trade skills director Michael Mitchell told Business Insider that the skilled trades have been "miscast" for the past 40 years in the US.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Lowe's wants to make plumbers, electricians, and mechanics cool.

The home improvement retailer is spearheading an organization called Generation T - "T" as in trade skills - that's looking to solved the skilled trades labor gap. Businesses and organizations like 3M, Timberland, Samsung, Bosch, the National Association of Home Builders, and local trade organizations have also signed on to Generation T.

Because if things keep going the way they're going, the US could be in for a bumpy road forward, according to Lowe's trade skills director Michael Mitchell.

Mitchell cited the National Association of Home Builders' study which found that 69% of its members reported delays on projects due to a shortage of skilled trades workers.

So what's driving this shortage? After all, Department of Labor data indicates that electricians rake in a median annual wage of $55,190, while carpenters earn $46,590 and plumbers take home $53,910. Meanwhile, LendEDU's 2019 survey found that college graduates zero to five years out of school made a median salary of $48,400.

"The cause is two-fold," Mitchell said. "Past generations of skilled trade workers are retiring, and there aren't enough trained workers to replace them. And for 40 years the skilled trades have been miscast. We need to help students understand the path to success leads through education that doesn't have to be a four-year degree; skilled trades education is simply a different brand of education."

Read more: Lowe's scores massive NFL deal and takes direct aim at Home Depot's core customer

Mitchell said that by 2028, he anticipates that there'll be a shortage of 3 million skilled trade workers, a labor deficit that "will hurt both American consumers and businesses."

"Lowe's spearheaded Generation T because we recognize the need to change how skilled trades are perceived and spotlight the opportunities the trade skills yield, such as economic mobility, independence and success," Mitchell said.

To bolster the skilled trades - not to mention win pro customers away from Home Depot - Generation T has set up a site designed to serve as a "national marketplace for jobs, apprenticeships, and education programs."

"Individuals can leverage the platform to explore opportunities in the skilled trades and locate actual training and job opportunities in their area by a simple ZIP code search," Mitchell said. "As more companies join the Generation T movement, more opportunities will become available within the portal."

"The goal of Generation T is to inspire an entire generation to explore skilled trade careers," Mitchell wrote. "By educating students and parents about these fields, and connecting companies and mentors to interested candidates, we can start to fill the skilled trades job pipeline."

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