I recently had a conversation over the phone with my dad that has stuck with me. We were discussing his recent trip to Traverse City, Michigan, to celebrate his second wedding anniversary with his wife (my parents are happily divorced). While out to dinner at a high-end restaurant, he remarked at how long they had to wait for service both at the bar and at their reserved table just because there weren’t enough employees working to handle the crowds. That, in turn, led to larger discussion on labor shortage in general.

It was an interesting conversation, one of our milder discussions seeing as we are on different ends of the political spectrum. We had both heard all the theories — we lost 600,000 workers to COVID-19; restrictive immigration policies are hampering the traditional low-income job market; parents are left without child care and cannot return to work; people still have health concerns regarding the virus; and my personal favorite (a little sarcasm here), workers made more on federal unemployment benefits, so why would they want to return to work? The truth may be somewhere in between all of these. 

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 9.5 million Americans were unemployed and looking for work in June. At the same, there were a record 9.2 million job openings. The data leads some economists to believe what the country is currently experiencing should not be called a labor shortage, but a shortage of workers settling for low-income and low-benefit jobs.

The skilled trades are certainly no stranger to the difficulties amidst a labor shortage. The most experienced trade pros are nearing retirement, and when you combine that with the lack of high school graduates entering the trades, the skills gap continues to grow. Since many high schools have eliminated vocational and technical programs, many students don’t realize the trades are an alternative option to college. Even when they are aware, there is a negative stigma associated with being a plumber, perhaps even more so than becoming an HVAC technician or electrician. To combat the stigma, many companies have ramped up their workforce development and recruitment efforts, the latest among them coming from Pfister.

This month, Pfister is launching a brand new workforce development campaign via its new docuseries, “American Plumber Stories.” The new series aims to promote the plumbing trade by highlighting real stories of real American plumbers, showcasing not only the passion they have for the profession, but also giving the audience a glimpse of their hobbies outside the industry. The idea is to show how becoming a plumber can lead to a financially rewarding and fulfilling life, allowing people to pursue their dreams in and out of the industry. 

Pretty genius, if you ask me. I’ve only been saying plumbers need to share their own success stories for years! 

“American Plumber Stories” will feature an initial 12 episodes, with the first one debuting on Aug. 2. Country music star Craig Morgan wrote the theme song and will host the show. Check out this teaser trailer. For more information, visit www.americanplumberstories.com.