Campus & Community

Lowe’s Foundation presents PBSC with $1 million grant to create innovative new skilled trades training center

The Lowe’s Foundation presented Palm Beach State College with a $1 million grant Jan. 17 to create a unique training space for skilled trades at the College’s Lake Worth campus.

“The reason this particular partnership with Lowe’s is so important is that many folks don’t realize that we have an amazing trades and workforce program that is helping to make a difference in so many jobs for so many individuals who choose to go out and be entrepreneurs and for so many companies,” PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. told the crowd which included local public officials, executives and team members from home improvement retailing giant Lowe’s, and PBSC administrators, students and staff.

PBSC is using the funds to create the Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation where training will simulate construction jobsite conditions, providing real-world experience for students. PBSC aims to contribute 1,500 new skilled trades graduates to the local workforce by 2028.

PBSC’s timing couldn’t be better. “The skilled trades sector is in a crisis,” Lowe’s Foundation board member and Lowe’s vice-president for pro-brand marketing Gerardo Soto said, noting that 85% of contractors nationwide currently struggle to find the skilled workers they need. “This is where Lowe’s and PBSC see an opportunity.”

The Lowe’s Foundation and PBSC are determined to close that gap. The $1 million grant awarded to PBSC is one of $8 million in Gable Grants from the Lowe’s Foundation awarded to just 11 schools nationwide as part of its larger five-year $50 million commitment to train 50,000 skilled trades workers. “It’s not just the 50,000 workers that will benefit,” Soto said. “It’s their families, communities and the homes and infrastructure they build.”

Lowe’s partnered with Klein Tools, the No. 1 hand tool brand among electrical and HVAC professionals, to outfit PBSC’s electrical and HVAC training labs with new tools and equipment. After the grant presentation ceremony, electrician apprentice and content creator, Andrea O’Connell spoke to PBSC students about her experience in the skilled trades as a single mother of two and hosted a Klein Tools demonstration. “Hands-on learning is essential for the construction trade curriculum and for building the next generation of skilled trades professionals,” said O’Connell. “Knowing they’ve had their hands on those tools and materials in class provides a much-needed boost of motivation and confidence.”

Students also heard from PBSC 2016 alumnus Chris Ferguson, a construction project manager who started his own scholarship for students in skilled trades programs. Growing up in a single parent home, Ferguson said he understands the financial barriers to education “I hope that this scholarship can impact many people in the community and groom and grow more skilled and qualified individuals in the trades.”

To view photos from the event, click on the image below.

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