Stanley Black & Decker has launched a five-year, $25 million global initiative to fund manufacturing and construction industry vocational skills training and reskilling programs.

The New Britain-based company expects to help train and retrain three million workers over the next five years through the Empower Makers Global Impact Challenge, which it announced Sept. 14.

The initiative, part of the company's corporate social responsibility program, is designed to address the shortage of skilled workers in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Stanley Black & Decker officials estimate there are 430,000 open construction jobs in the United States and 10 million unfilled manufacturing positions around the globe.

The company says the pandemic has exacerbated the skills shortage, displacing millions of workers since March 2020 while the shift to remote and hybrid learning has "significantly impacted career and technical education schools and classes, which rely heavily on hands-on learning."

High-Paying Careers

“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," said Stanley Black & Decker CEO Jim Loree.

"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.” 

Loree said the company wants to change misperceptions about the skilled trades, including the perceptions that these careers are not financially rewarding.

He cited a Rock the Trades report showing that the salaries of many skilled trades workers exceed the $53,000 U.S. national average salary.

The report found that electricians can make up to $96,000 annually while an aircraft mechanic's salary can exceed $100,000 a year.

Grant Submissions

Stanley Black & Decker will award up to $5 million in grants this year to nonprofits supporting trade workforce development initiatives.

Submissions will be evaluated based on multiple criteria, including the number of people served, projected outcomes, sustainability impact, depth of programs, and diversity.

Nonprofit organizations can apply for grants from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.

“We encourage nonprofits to learn more about the Impact Challenge now and sign up for updates in advance of October’s open application period,” said Diane Cantello, Stanley Black & Decker's vice president of social impact.

“The open application period in October also marks Stanley Black & Decker’s annual Maker Month, the company’s celebration of the makers, creators, and tradespeople shaping the world around us."