Huge shortages loom in the skilled trades workforce as current workers retire and students are increasingly encouraged to pursue four-year college or university degrees. To support high school skilled trades education, Harbor Freight Tools in Calabasas will award more than $1 million in 2019 to trades teachers and their programs around the country as part of its annual Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Applications for this year opened in late April and will be open through June 17. “Even at Harbor Freight Tools, as we’re building and opening two new stores every week, we struggle to find enough skilled electricians, carpenters, plumbers and HVAC technicians,” said Chief Executive Eric Smidt in a statement. “I have a special place in my heart for skilled trades teachers.” The tool and equipment retailer previously awarded $1 million to trades teachers as part of its 2018 awards program. Three first-place winners received $100,000 and 15 second-place winners received $50,000, with awards divided between the teacher and the school’s skilled trades program. The 2019 awards will follow the same format. Last year’s first-place winners are Gary Bronson, an industrial diesel mechanics teacher at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington, Ohio; Charles Kachmar, who teaches metals and welding at Maxwell High School of Technology in Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Andrew Neumann, a building trades teacher at Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center in Bay City, Mich. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools team presented awards to the three, as well as second-place winners, by way of surprise visits to each of their schools. The company also awarded $1,000 to 34 semi-finalists to support their schools’ programs.