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Chicago 1900. Photo: Library of Congress / Corbis / VCG via Getty

In one of the hardest times to hire skilled workers in decades, Lowe's is running a pilot program offering $2,500 to its own employees if they will learn a master trade, such as electrician or plumber.

Why it matters: After four months of 4.1% unemployment, and the possibility it could drop to 3.5% this year, most companies are still resisting forming their own training programs to skill people up. Lowe's is an example of what we may see over the coming year and longer as companies become more desperate to fill skilled vacancies.

The details: Jennifer Weber, chief human resource officer at Lowe's, tells Axios that the pilot will run in four U.S. cities — Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Pittsburgh and Richmond, VA.

  • Lowe's employees will receive up to $2,500 of the cost of a 6-to-10-month pre-apprenticeship to be an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber or an appliance repair person.
  • That would be followed by placement in a two-year apprenticeship.
  • Those who finish could return to a Lowe's store as an expert helping customers, or work in the master trade for one of the chain's contractors.

Weber said employees will not be required to stay with Lowe's or its contractor network, but that the idea is to build up a cadre of skilled people associated with the chain.

  • The pilot is meant to lead to establishing the program across the U.S.
  • Taken to its extreme, if every one of Lowe's' 190,000 hourly employees decides to sign up, the commitment would cost the chain about $475 million, and more if some of its 60,000 salaried employees elect to go into the trades, too.

Going deeper: Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, tells Axios that there are some 3 million tech-related vacancies in the U.S. at the moment. Companies, he said, are beginning to understand that they cannot simply stand by and wait for colleges and other companies to train their future employees. "There is a growing recognition that they need to take on the responsibility of training that is currently carried mostly by educational institutions," he said.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
58 mins ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."