Girl Scouts look to nail construction jobs

A young woman participating in Home Depot's trades training program supporting military members who are leaving the service. courtesy of the Home Depot Foundation.
A young woman participating in Home Depot's trades training program supporting military members who are leaving the service. courtesy of the Home Depot Foundation.

Credit: Courtesy of the Home Depot Foundation

Home Depot to provide training

The Home Depot Foundation and the Girl Scouts of the USA are developing a fall program to offer training in skilled trades to girls, which could help address a lack of gender and racial diversity and a shortage of workers in the field.

Emmye Harris, one of four members of Troop 1430 in Fulton County, is looking forward to the program.

“I would love to do it. That sounds so cool,” Harris said. “I feel like girls are never really told that they can do stuff (in the trade skills industry), and this would give girls the opportunity.”

Leslie Gilliam, the communications director for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, is also excited about the program.

“It’s an opportunity to introduce girls to new skills while building leadership in areas traditionally underrepresented by women,” she said.

Lack of diversity and shortage of labor

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 11% of construction workers and 27% of architecture and engineering professionals were women. Median annual salaries range from $49,520 for carpenters to $82,320 for architects.

The National Association of Homebuilders reported that in 2019, white people were the only racial group that made up more than 3% of its members. The BLS says 30% of construction workers are Latino and 6% are Black.

As for the labor shortage, Shannon Gerber the executive executive director of the Home Depot Foundation said that there are approximately 300,000 jobs available in the industry in the United States.

The Home Depot Foundation is hoping to shake up the statistics by recruiting Girl Scouts. The program is open to girls from 8th to 12th grades.

Fleshing out the details

In the fall, 300 girls from Atlanta, Denver and Houston — 100 from each area — will participate in the program.

“The workshops will provide hands-on experience with carpentry and other building construction skills,” Gerber said. “They will build various styles of picnic tables, benches, and shade structures and will have the opportunity to donate them to local nonprofits.”

The workshops will be led by women. There are also scholarships which could help girls who are interested in pursuing a career in the industry.

Details about the program’s curriculum, timing and the selection of candidates are being worked out.

Atlanta home builders see need for program

Georgia and other markets are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, said Gabe Chatham of Chatham Built Homes and the immediate past president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association.

“This is not a problem we can solve overnight, but if we can develop that pipeline and let people see, especially these young girls, the opportunities that are out there, I think that diversification in our labor market would be extremely helpful,” Chatham said.

Jim Beveridge of McKinney Builders shared similar thoughts: “Some of our most highly valued prospects would be ladies because typically a lady has a lot to say about the house.”

“We [McKinney Builders] would be delighted to try to recruit from the initiative if we are invited.”

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