“The number one asset of any employer is a trained and qualified worker,” House Career & Technical Education Caucus Co-Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) said during opening remarks at an April 27 special Workforce Development Roundtable on Capitol Hill.
But given current demographic trends, finding skilled workers is becoming increasingly more difficult in the p-h-c industry. With an expected shortage of more than 138,000 employees by 2022, the industry faces a “workforce time bomb,” said roundtable facilitator Tom Applegate, executive director of the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents and a member of the PHCC Educational Foundation Board of Directors.
To raise awareness of the issue, a panel of PHCC members from across the country shared the proactive solutions they have implemented to fill some of the many jobs and career opportunities available in the industry. Here are some of the examples:
John Bain, R.T. Moore Co. Vice President of Internal Operations & Talent, and PHCC of Indiana Executive Director Brenda Dant described how their chapter developed a special website (www.thebestcareer4you.com) that reaches the 18- to 24-year-old market and promotes the “modern profession of plumbing.” According to Dant, the website matched 230 prospective employees to employers over a three-month period.
“Attracting, training and retaining a qualified workforce are crucial for our company—and a challenge for us,” Bain said. “This PHCC chapter website helps build brand awareness of the opportunities in the skilled trades, and our company gets the advantage of leveraging the website to get qualified leads on new workers.”
Ride and Decide
Gordy Noe, President of Pioneer Heating and Air, Knoxville, Tennessee, talked about the success of the Ride and Decide program, which allows high school juniors and seniors in his area to try the trades and see if it’s a good fit. In its second year, the program has more than 50 students signed up to experience first-hand what the jobs entail – while getting paid – so that they can make informed career decisions.
Plumbing Pipeline Program
Sam Dowdy, Owner of S & D Plumbing in Taylor, Texas, described the successful Plumbing Pipeline Program he established to increase high school students’ interest in p-h-c careers. Dowdy also participates in local Careers Days for kindergarten and elementary students, as well as several other recruiting programs. “We’re making sure that students, parents, counselors and teachers know that there are opportunities for professionals in our industry,” he said.
Representatives of two PHCC Corporate Partners also attended the roundtable: Bradford White Executive Vice President and COO Bruce Carnevale and Bradford White Director of Marketing Carl Pinto; and InSinkErator Vice President of Sales – Wholesale Joe Maiale.
“This workforce challenge extends well beyond p-h-c contractors,” said Pinto. “There is a ripple effect on the industry, including the manufacturers and wholesalers who support p-h-c contractors. Bradford White needs professionals to install our products.”
During a Q & A session, a variety of topics were discussed that keyed on the need for positive workforce development policy; outreach with teachers, counselors and workforce boards; soft skills training for technicians; increased CTE funding; and the inclusion of p-h-c contractors and other industry representatives in discussions about future workforce initiatives.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) expressed his gratitude that p-h-c contractors came to Capitol Hill to offer their successful hiring strategies. As the owner of Mullin Plumbing, the Congressman knows first-hand the challenges of finding skilled workers.
Two representatives of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) also attended. The UA has established a Veterans in Piping program that provides high-quality skills training and jobs in the pipe trades to active duty military personnel preparing to leave the service.
During the conclusion of the roundtable, facilitator Tom Applegate encouraged those in the industry to continue their employee recruitment efforts and consider new strategies, as well. “The successful programs implemented by the contractors and associations here today can be replicated in other local areas,” he said. For more information, visit PHCC’s online Workforce Development Center.
“This event provided an excellent platform for PHCC members to share successful recruitment programs and express their continued need for skilled and career-minded employees,” said PHCC—National Association President Charles “Chip” E. Greene, Greene & Associates, Macon, Georgia. “We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this special forum on Capitol Hill.”