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The Next Economy
Stanley Black & Decker Commits $25M to Train Over 3M Skilled Trade Workers

As the latest company to use its size and scale to help equip the next generation of workers, SBD’s ‘Empower Makers’ grants aim to advance and accelerate vocational skills training programs in the next five years — and change misconceptions that these careers are not financially rewarding.

Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) announced today it is launching a five-year, up to $25 million initiative to fund vocational skills training and reskilling programs in the construction and manufacturing sectors. Beginning Oct. 1, nonprofits around the globe can apply for grants as part of the “Empower Makers” Global Impact Challenge.

SBD joins a growing number of companies using their resources to educate and equip the next generation of workers to excel in in-demand industries including tech, agriculture, culinary and hospitality — with particular effort to reach underrepresented groups. The “Empower Makers” program is a critical component of the company’s CSR program that includes a goal to empower 10 million makers — the number of global manufacturing jobs that remain unfilled due to a shortage of workers with the right skills — by 2030. To date, SBD’s efforts have centered on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education — now, the Impact Challenge aims to skill and reskill up to three million construction and manufacturing workers over the next five years.

Due to a lack of skilled trade workers, there are 430,000 open construction jobs in the US alone, and 10 million unfilled manufacturing jobs globally. The pandemic has exacerbated this problem, with millions of workers displaced since early 2020. In addition, the shift to remote and hybrid learning significantly impacted career and technical education (CTE) schools and classes, which rely heavily on hands-on learning. Almost 60 percent of CTE administrators reported lower enrollment in their programs for 2021.

“Stanley Black & Decker is for the makers, the builders and the tradespeople — those out doing the hard work to create the world around us and build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said SBD CEO Jim Loree. “Over the last several decades, vocational schools and careers in the trades have been overshadowed — despite the excellent, well-paying jobs and career paths they offer. Our goal is to recognize and advance those organizations that are working to create the skilled workers and tradespeople of the future that our society needs. For those workers displaced by the pandemic — especially women, people of color and veterans — we want to encourage them to trade up to a career in the trades.”

Stanley Black & Decker also aims to change misconceptions about skilled trade jobs, including the notion that these careers are not financially rewarding. A report from Rock the Trades shows that many workers in skilled trades earn much more than the US national average salary ($53,000) — including electricians who can make up to $96,000 per year, or aircraft mechanics who can make more than $100,000 per year. Meanwhile, the average cost of a four-year college degree is $127,000 vs. $33,000 for a trade school program.

The Global Impact Challenge

This year, SBD’s “Empower Makers” Global Impact Challenge will award up to $5 million in grants to nonprofits supporting trade workforce development initiatives. Submissions will be evaluated based on multiple criteria — including but not limited to number of people served, outcomes projected, sustainable impact, depth of programs, diversity and more. Nonprofits can apply at between October 1 through October 31 — which coincides with SBD’s annual Maker Month.

“Stanley Black & Decker’s support of the skilled trades is fantastic for the nonprofit community,” said Shelley Halstead, founder of Baltimore’s Black Women Build — which trains Black women in carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills by restoring vacant and deteriorated houses in West Baltimore. “Organizations like ours work really hard to make an impact in our communities and provide the training for women to have fulfilling careers. But it’s pretty much impossible without financial support from companies or individuals who believe in what we do. We will definitely be applying for an Impact Challenge grant so we can introduce more women and minorities to the trades and close the skills gap.”

More information about the Impact Challenge can be found here.