March 15, 2021 | Bill Esler
Nashville, TN – Lowe’s committed $75,000 to Goodwill of Middle Tennessee Construction Training program. In addition, the company provided its employees to serve as instructors.
“Goodwill identifies students, and Lowe’s – along with volunteers from other companies – goes in to teach them how to use power tools, how to lay tile, carpentry skills, painting – the basics to give someone the confidence they need to apply for a job,” says Tim Hendrickson, a Lowe’s store manager in Nashville.
Through the grant, Goodwill purchased nail guns, drills, levels, screws, lumber and plumbing supplies to expand hands-on learning in its construction training program, which has been taught in Nashville for a decade. The grant also funded the purchase of video equipment for online instruction during COVID-19.
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The training program operates from Goodwill’s warehouse in West Nashville. Students attend classes five days a week for four weeks, learning the names and uses of most construction tools, how to stay safe on the job, how to properly measure materials for projects and more. Students earn a stipend of $100 per week.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” says Lowe’s Regional Pro Sales Manager Danny Knowles, a fan of the Goodwill construction training program. “It gives people opportunities to advance their careers they never thought possible. It’s creating independence. By the time people graduate from this, they have been part of a crew that built a tiny house.”
The training program averages about 75 participants per year. Goodwill has students split their time evenly between instruction in the classroom and the workshop. Goodwill provides students with job placement assistance once they graduate. Of the 86 students who completed the program in 2019, 77% found a job in construction. Historically, some of these students had a hard time getting hired due to being formerly incarcerated or having a language barrier.
Like many training programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, class sizes are restricted, and classroom lessons are now augmented with online homework, using videos shot and produced with equipment from the Lowe’s grant.
Sucrontay Stanley, a veteran of the Army and Navy who wanted to move into a career in construction, was among the students in 2020. After taking the class last April, she formed a construction businesses and has already bid for and won a number of projects.
Program instructor Tim Kahn says Stanley was an “extremely astute” student and an extremely hard worker. While attending daily in-person classes, she simultaneously took a virtual version of the class made possible through the grant by Lowe’s. “She was taking quizzes and tests online while doing the class in person, which was highly unusual,” he says. “She was an overachiever.”
“Thanks to Lowe’s, we are primed for growth once the pandemic winds down,” says Kahn. “The construction industry remains strong in Middle Tennessee, and those companies need skilled workers. Goodwill is giving people the knowledge and experience to succeed in those jobs and to earn good income for their families.” The Lowe’s grant may enable Goodwill to increase the number of students this year to 120 – a 60% increase.
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