The Home Depot Foundation helps fund new Florida training facility for construction jobs

By Riley SimpsonOctober 06, 2021

The Home Builders Institute (HBI), which trains beginners into sought-after tradespeople, recently opened the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando, a new center for construction job training

The Home Builders Institute (HBI) announced the official opening of the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando, a new training facility in central Florida for people pursuing skilled trades in the construction industry.

And thanks to funding by The Home Depot Foundation and other private, public and nonprofit sector partners, training at the new center will be free for students, according to an HBI release.

Amid the skilled labor shortage that continues to plague construction, the new HBI training center joins several industry initiatives to spark interest and opportunities for new workers in construction – last month for Labor Day, rock band Metallica and apparel company Carhartt joined forces to raise funds for construction job training.

HBI said it’s anticipating the facility to serve approximately 500 new trainees by year-end 2022.

“As openings in construction jobs increase and people are rethinking their careers, the times demand that we take an inventive approach to creating the skilled workers so badly needed in the building industry,” said Ed Brady, HBI president and CEO, at the facility’s grand opening ceremony. “Students at the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando will be exposed to the full spectrum of their opportunities in the construction trades.”

According to HBI, the training program will guide students from beginners with little-to-no trade skills to sought-after tradespeople.

The facility’s instructors will use HBI’s industry-recognized curriculum, which HBI said is one of three pre-apprenticeship programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This is the opportunity for new recruits to the industry to get in on the entry level and receive hands-on training and placement into well-paid jobs,” Brady said.

For more than 50 years, HBI said in its release, the nonprofit organization has conducted programs across the U.S. training approximately 10,000 students each year through a variety of specialized programs.

But HBI officials said they are taking a new approach in Orlando by managing a facility that instructs students in several construction trades under one roof.

The construction industry coming up 300,000-400,000 skilled workers short each month this year, according to analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and only a small percentage of young adults are pursuing careers in construction, Brady said.

“We’re excited to launch this academy program in Orlando and bring career opportunities to the area, in partnership with HBI,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. “This program helps further our goal of supporting the next generation of tradespeople while diversifying the industry.”

In advance of the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando’s grand opening, the facility’s first class of students graduated earlier this month after beginning their journey in June: After a two-week orientation session called the “residential introductory series,” the students progressed to four weeks of skills training that resulted in an industry-recognized certification as a pre-apprentice.

The students could then choose to enter a six-week program to be trained in carpentry skills.

For more information on the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando, and how to enroll, visit

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