For owners of plumbing and heating and cooling companies, finding and keeping qualified workers is becoming a bigger challenge every day. Here’s why:
Using U.S. Census data, we estimate the industry will need 21 percent more plumbing and HVAC construction technicians by 2022 in addition to replacing existing workers who retire.

By 2025, 95 million baby boomers will have left the workforce, and only 40 million members of Generation X and Generation Y will be available to replace them.
For every four skilled workers who leave the construction industry, only one is entering the field. To address this problem, a special task force made up of members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association and the PHCC Educational Foundation Workforce Development Task Force was created in 2014. The task force has recommended a variety of strategic initiatives and resources to help member companies. 

Recent efforts include speaking with lawmakers on the topic at legislative conferences and offering development programs for employees, like a workshop hosted by Viega and recruiting meetings for PHCC’s Construction Contractors Alliance members. We were also pleased to sponsor the plumbing and HVAC contests at SkillsUSA, an event that helps develop and recognize the future generation of skilled workers. 

PHCC is also very active within the industry with various programs to help rebuild the workforce we need to continue to provide safe and efficient plumbing and HVAC services for our country. PHCC’s involvement with the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation supports projects, programs and partnerships that support the recruitment of the next generation of skilled workers.

Training available 

At the same time, we’re reminding members of all the great training resources available to them through their membership in PHCC. These include the PHCC Educational Foundation apprentice programs, online learning programs and plumbing assessment tests. 

We’ve also created:

  • A new career web page with resources for students, parents, people changing jobs, educators and contractors
  • An outreach “tool kit” to help contractors work with local secondary and postsecondary school programs
  • A variety of workforce-development templates and resources that members can customize.

We’re also planning to establish new partnerships with other organizations to communicate about workforce concerns with broader target audiences. And we’re serving as a clearinghouse to help members and chapters share innovative ideas for workforce development with each other. There are a lot of great stories to share. 

Here some of the initiatives underway at PHCC chapters: 

  •  “Promoting a modern profession” by the PHCC of Indiana. The association has launched a marketing campaign to attract a new generation to the “modern profession of plumbing.” The program matches young people interested in an industry career with current Indiana PHCC members.
  • The “ride and decide experience” from the PHCC of Tennessee. There’s no time like summer for high school students to try out a career in the PHC profession. The program pairs students with industry contractors to allow them to experience the trade while assisting in paid work functions during the summer.
  • “Earn while you learn” by PHCC of Georgia. The Georgia chapter has launched two apprentice programs that help students learn plumbing skills and earn money while working with PHCC contractor sponsors. Through its academy apprentice program, students can take either a plumbing course that combines classroom time with on-the-job training, or an e-learning plumbing course that allows students who work and live further away from the academy’s classrooms to finish their schooling and work toward becoming licensed contractors.
  • Influencing workforce development legislation by PHCC of Virginia. Virginia chapter officials successfully advocated for this groundbreaking workforce development legislation. This law, which went into effect in July 2015, seeks to dramatically increase the number of apprenticeships in Virginia, encourage businesses to hire more veterans, offer financial aid for non-credit certification training at community colleges and redirect currently available federal funds to education and training for workforce credentials.

PHCC is taking steps to help ensure the industry has the workforce it needs — now and in the future. For more information about PHCC, email membership@naphcc.org; call (800) 533-7694 or visit www.phccweb.org.

This article was supplied by the PHCC National Association.