Home Depot's Free ‘Path to Pro’ Program Puts Veterans into Skilled Trades Careers

(U.S. Army/Capt. Gregory Walsh)

Skilled trades are quickly becoming the go-to careers of the future, as the older generation retires or otherwise leaves the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are 400,000 open trades jobs today, with potentiially 3.5 million more over the next eight years, creating a prime opportunity for veterans leaving the military and looking for civilian careers.

The Home Depot Foundation's Path to Pro skilled trades training program has created new careers in these fields for 1,200 veterans since it was first launched in 2018. Along with its partners, Home Builders Institute (HBI), Construction Ready, and SkillPointe Foundation, the goal is to teach the skills while helping vets land a job.

Hands-on training includes some of the highest-paying, in-demand skilled trades today, from construction, restoration and remodeling to plumbing and electrical, HVAC, roofing, welding and landscaping, as well as property investment and management. That's just a few of the skills offered.

Through HBI, the 12-week course trains and certifies the military member to work in a semi-skilled status in a skilled trades job. Seventy-five percent of the program is hands-on at one of 10 military installations across the country, and since HBI is a DoD SkillBridge partner, transitioning service members can complete the training while still receiving military pay and benefits up to 180 days before they separate.

Participating installations include:

Once transitioning service members complete the HBI program, they will receive job placement support from HBI's network of contractors and other employers. On top of that, Path to Pro offers web-based development courses from professionals in skilled trades, with resume help and interview training.

These teach building and maintaining relationships with employers and clients to expand the service member's career networks. Participants who finish the training also get access to an exclusive online job database, where Home Depot customers can search for talent and hire it.

This year, Path to Pro is adding another $3.7 million to fill America's labor gap and wants to use it to train more veterans for these crucial career roles, meaning the program comes at zero cost to the service member. Applicants only need a valid driver's license and a computer with internet access to get started.

For more information or to apply to the Home Depot Foundation's Path to Pro program, visit the Military area of the website. For more details about the program instruction, visit the HBI website.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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