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The Home Depot Foundation is granting $1 million to its veteran-led disaster response partner Team Rubicon to help build a new trades training program. Through the TRades Academy, Team Rubicon will provide students with on-the-job training in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC as they rebuild homes in communities impacted by natural disasters.

Once trained, graduates will be equipped to work with general contractors and nonprofit organizations, helping address the skilled trades gap as well as broadening support after natural disasters.

“In 2023, a disaster causing a billion dollars in damage happened every 13 days on average, and each affected community also experienced a shortage of qualified labor. There simply aren’t enough skilled tradespeople to help communities rebuild and recover after disaster strikes,” Art delaCruz, CEO of Team Rubicon, said. “The Home Depot Foundation’s investment in the TRades Academy will help empower our dedicated veteran and civilian graduates to serve communities impacted by natural disasters in a new capacity while helping to fill the skilled labor gap.”

The Home Depot Foundation has partnered with Team Rubicon since 2012 to provide immediate disaster response as well as long-term recovery to communities in need. Team Rubicon said while it worked to rebuild homes devastated by hurricanes and tornadoes, it experienced challenges finding trained professionals to provide long-term recovery.

“We’re proud to invest in the TRades Academy to help train skilled tradespeople, embed trades specialists in vulnerable communities, and further scale the incredible work of Team Rubicon’s volunteers after disasters,” Erin Izen, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, said. “Programs like this allow The Home Depot to help fill the skilled labor gap and provide pros access to qualified candidates.”

While lower building volumes have allowed the impact of labor shortages to be less pronounced, the problem is still significant, widespread, and likely to become more severe as building activity accelerates. The recent Fall 2023 Construction Labor Market Report from the Home Builders Institute estimates the construction industry needs 60,000 new hires every month and to add 2 million new skilled workers to the industry by 2026. As part of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, the share of builders experiencing severe labor shortages across 16 trades ranged from a low of 33% for landscape workers to a high of 65% for finished carpentry workers.

Through its Path to Pro Program, The Home Depot Foundation offers free training opportunities and scholarships to introduce youth, underserved communities, and separating U.S. military servicemembers to meaningful careers in plumbing, carpentry, electrical, and HVAC. The Home Depot also connects skilled tradespeople to construction job openings and offers free virtual classes on careers in the trades.