There’s an old saying that goes, “Put your money where your mouth is.” It essentially means that rather than just talking about a problem, you should do something about it. Using your time, efforts, and — of course — money.

Stanley Black & Decker is addressing that opportunity with a new initiative… that endeavors to solve a major problem in the country and around the world.

The skills gap is an issue that’s been growing for decades. And has only been exacerbated further by the pandemic. As parents push their kids into four-year colleges, trade schools have become stigmatized — which has resulted in fewer people available to do the work of building, repairing and making things.

This is a big problem for the country… as we rely on skilled tradespeople in a lot of ways. It should be no surprise that these people tend to use tools… which Stanley Black & Decker happens to make.

An Approach That Resonates

To combat skilled labor challenges, the company recently announced its Empower Makers Global Impact Challenge, which seeks to close the skills gap by funding vocational training and reskilling programs. Through the program, Stanley Black & Decker hopes to impact up to three million “makers” in the next five years.

And earlier this month, the company launched its fourth annual Maker Month… a celebration of the creators and makers who shape the world around us. This year’s theme is “Thank a Maker,” which was chosen to demonstrate gratitude for the numerous skilled trade workers who have played a crucial role in keeping services operational throughout the pandemic.

Stanley Black & Decker’s commitment to the cause is significant, and accordingly, the company will be contributing up to 25 million in grants to nonprofits.

We applaud this program for a variety of reasons.

Being Authentic

First, this initiative appears to come from a real desire… to make a difference.

The skills gap — and resulting labor shortage — has been growing in the country and around the world. In fact, as a result of the shortage of skilled trade workers, 430,000 construction jobs are currently open in the US, with 10 million unfilled manufacturing jobs globally.

But outside of industry influencers like Mike Rowe, few have actually been doing much, if anything, about it.

Stanley Black & Decker’s initiative changes that in a big way. The company is leveraging considerable resources behind the cause. Its goals are ambitious. And the program looks to be set up in such a way… that it can truly make a dent in the problem.

People are smart. They can sniff out when a company is just paying “lip service” to an issue. And when a brand is really trying to create lasting change. The robustness of this program gives it an authentic feel… and we believe end users and tradespeople will take notice.

Supporting Doers

The Empower Makers initiative is designed to get at the heart of the skilled trades shortage by de-stigmatizing vocational education.

Stanley Black & Decker could have tried to accomplish this with a slate of slick ads. And videos posted on social media.

While that approach may have received some traction, this initiative takes a different angle. The campaign goes direct to the solution — and puts resources into the hands of the organizations actively working to address the challenge.

By awarding grants to nonprofits, Stanley Black & Decker is helping to ensure real progress is being made. The program recognizes and supports the organizations who are closest to the problem… and who know how to be part of the solution.

Building Goodwill

So, the more progress that’s accomplished, the more the audiences — who are affected by labor challenges — will have goodwill toward the Stanley Black & Decker brand.

As the program succeeds, a growing number of young people will, in turn, enroll in vocational schools… and will be exposed to the Stanley Black & Decker brands. As they recognize and appreciate the underwriter of sorts for their education, they will be grateful… and likely will develop an affinity and loyalty to the brand.

But it doesn’t stop there. The company will be able to tout its success — as skilled trade jobs get filled — and other audiences will take notice. Including suburban homeowners… who might have the need to buy a leaf blower or hedge trimmer.

Stanley Black & Decker is committing a lot of money to this program, recognizing that increasing its spend on traditional advertising was unlikely to have garnered near the level of goodwill… that this program will potentially generate.

Educating Future Customers

Of course, Stanley Black & Decker isn’t the first company to address a societal issue while educating — and supporting — its future customers.

Last fall, decking manufacturer Trex partnered with NW Works, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that provides vocational training and job placement for physically and mentally disabled adults. Trex brought onboard 14 of NW Works’ clients as employees at the company’s processing and shipping facility, where they help to assemble boxes for shipping Trex products.

Earlier this year, The Home Depot announced a partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA to give girls hands-on experience with carpentry and other building trades. This program seeks to create more interest in construction-related fields among girls.

Yet, we haven’t seen a program that matches the scope of the Stanley Black & Decker program in some time. And our team is looking forward to experiencing how the program is executed.

Interested in exploring ways that your building product brand can address industry challenges? Send an email to Steve Kleber at to get the conversation started.