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Angi launches skilled trades scholarship program to bridge talent gap

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Dive Brief:

  • Angi, a company that provides maintenance, repair and renovation services, has initiated a scholarship program aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of skilled trades and closing the labor gap. 
  • The company’s Trade Up Scholarship Program will grant $2,500 scholarships to four students who have been accepted to or are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate construction-related trade program at any trade school, college or university, according to a news release Monday. Angi also announced that it launched a digital career fair Tuesday through an expanded partnership with digital trades jobs platform BlueRecruit.
  • Angi plans to expand the scholarship program if its initial phase is successful, Angi CEO and co-founder Angie Hicks said in an interview. The partnership with BlueRecruit will help educate businesses about the value that young graduates “coming out of top trade training programs” can bring to organizations to “future-proof and drive sustainable success,” BlueRecruit CEO and co-founder Rich Camacho told Facilities Dive. “Investing in the development of trade school graduates isn’t just about filling immediate gaps,” he said. “It’s about nurturing the next generation of trainers and leaders within your own ranks for long-term success and innovation.” 

Dive Insight:

Skilled labor shortages have been a long-standing issue. A Manpower Talent Survey found that 67% of organizations with more than 250 employees reported talent shortages as far back as 2018. The record numbers of facility managers retiring and exiting the workforce are causing an “industry wide generational shift and leaving many FM teams understaffed,” according to a December 2023 report from JLL Technologies. 

A March analysis by advisory services firm Marcum notes that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a wave of early retirements in 2020 and 2021, worsening the problem, especially in the building, construction and infrastructure sectors. 

The growing labor scarcity has intensified competition for talent, McKinsey said in an April report, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that points to average wage increases of more than 20% for skilled labor in sectors like manufacturing and construction operations since the first quarter of 2020. 

Angi has a network of nearly 200,000 home service professionals, per the release. “A lot of our pros are small businesses. They might only have 10 people or more in their company, So, they may not need to hire hundreds of people a year, but the one or two people they do need to hire are super important and vital to their organization” because they contribute significantly to the workload Hicks said.

A topline analysis conducted by Angi in 2021 found that the average annual earnings of plumbers, electricians and general contractor services were 22%, 29% and 53% higher, respectively, than those of the general population. That analysis also found that 83% of tradespeople were satisfied with their choice of work.  

However, as much as organizations are struggling to find the right talent, job seekers are also facing challenges in connecting with prospective employers, according to Camacho. “One of the biggest barriers for job seekers connecting with employers is the difficulty of connecting the two parties. We can all agree that you shouldn’t use a hammer to paint a wall. Unfortunately, employers too often utilize the same hiring tools regardless of the role they’re trying to hire for,” Camacho said. 

“For example, if you’re trying to hire a senior executive for your company, it makes perfect sense to expect that individual to have a qualitative resume and cover letter detailing their soft skills and operational experiences. However, if you’re trying to hire a journeyman plumber, a resume is far less practical and you should focus on whether that plumber holds the appropriate licenses and certifications to execute the work,” Camacho explained. Overall, there is a general lack of visibility and networking opportunities within the industry and navigating the skilled trades sector for job opportunities can be more decentralized and reliant on word-of-mouth referrals, he added.

Angi’s scholarship initiative and its partnership with BlueRecruit intend to foster connections between job candidates eyeing opportunities in the skilled trades and professionals looking to grow their business, per the release. A digital career fair kicked off Tuesday to connect roughly 55,000 job seekers on the BlueRecruit platform to Angi’s network of nearly 200,000 professionals on a one-to-one basis, with professionals matching and hiring talent during the fair, the release said. 

Scholarship applicants are required to write a 1,000 to 2,000 word essay on one of three topics related to the trade labor shortage, according to a scholarship page. Applications are due Aug. 23. Angi’s Pro Council — a council of 15 professionals in Angi’s network representing businesses with “hundreds of collective years of experience” will evaluate the entries, Hicks said. She added that the entries coming in would be used as a “jumping off point” for evaluating the candidates. Winners will be announced on or around Sept. 2, according to the scholarship page. 

Other efforts are also underway to bridge the skilled labor gap. Integrated facilities management firm NEST, which helped form a Skilled Trades Advisory Council last year, recently launched a skilled trades program in partnership with a Major League Baseball franchise to encourage young people to consider skilled trades careers as viable and rewarding career options.

Meanwhile, Johnson Controls is investing in the skilled trades pipeline via partnerships and corporate sponsorships with K-12 schools and community colleges that aim to provide a pathway to employment at its locations throughout the country. 

While we have a great amount of work ahead to continue to demonstrate to young people — and just as importantly, to their parents — [the] benefits of the skilled trades, there is no doubt that the pendulum is beginning to swing in favor of pursuing vocational education and careers,” Camacho said. 

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