Contractors Group Aims to Quell
Plumbing Workforce Shortage.
Facing an industry workforce shortage, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors
Association has deployed an initiative with the goal of attracting more than
100,000 millennials to the workforce by 2020.
A good education is key to a successful future.
But with a new initiative, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
is hoping millennials will expand their ideas about what kinds of education and
careers lead to the good life.
“For a long time, we promoted people going to work in the skilled trades and
then the education system changed across the U.S.,” said PHCC Educational
Foundation COO Cindy Sheridan, CAE. “Most schools were pushing students to go to
college, so all of a sudden it wasn’t cool to go into the trades.”
That philosophy trickled down to the plumbing, heating, and cooling industry.
Currently, large portions of the workforce are retiring, but adequate numbers of
newly apprenticed technicians or technical school graduates aren’t replacing
To help with this shortage, PHCC started an initiative that aims to dispel myths
about the industry and create awareness about the opportunities. At a national
level, Sheridan said, PHCC wanted to “develop the tools and resources and the
messaging that contractors and chapters could use on their local levels.”
PHCC didn’t have the resources to meet with every school’s counselors about its
industry’s career options, but “if we could develop the messaging and make it
easy for chapters and contractors to go to career days and meet with their
schools and setup field trips and get involved in the schools, then they could
do that,” Sheridan said.
And that’s just what PHCC did. In 2015, the national association released a
series of four customizable flyers, which local chapters could incorporate their
own logos on and hand them out at PTA meetings or career fairs. These flyers
touched on everything from career paths and needed STEM skills to salaries and
the availability of jobs.
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PHCC also created a
Workforce Development Center on its website, and at the end
of 2015, gave its local counterparts a customizable banner
ad that pushed users to these workforce resources.
In 2016, PHCC gifted its chapters with a two-minute video
that again touted the benefits of a career in the plumbing,
heating, and cooling industry.
“Think about it,” asks the video’s narrator. “No college
debt; great pay; huge demand, no matter where you want to
live; interesting hands-on work—there’s always new products
and technologies to learn. And if you want, someday you can
own your own business. So what are you waiting for?”
Another part of this PHCC initiative is sharing the efforts
of various chapters with other chapters. For instance, in
Tennessee, one member used the PHCC resources and created a
Ride-and-Decide program, where high school students can get
paid for a six-week summer job of riding alongside a
plumber, as well as working in the office and observing on
the job site. After they graduate high school, whether they
stay in the business or not, the industry is getting
“Our efforts before were really targeted at the chapters and
contractors,” Sheridan said, but with a new site PHC
Careers, the focus is really on students, people changing
careers, and veterans. “We need [more than] 100,000 new
workers to take care of the ones that are retiring.”
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