As Network ’07 ended, top members and staff from the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association held a press conference to outline what the group has done and will continue to do to address the industry’s workforce shortage.

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the plumbing and HVACR industry need more than 100,000 new workers each year to replace those that are retiring and to fill new jobs that will be created,” said outgoing PHCC President Jo Wagner.

Recruiting the needed talent to the plumbing and heating industries has included efforts from the PHCC Educational Foundation and the PHCC Partners for Professionalism are combining efforts.

For example, Gerry Kennedy, vice president of the Educational Foundation, met with federal authorities at the Department of Education to support a “career cluster” concept to introduce students to careers while in middle school. Last March, Kennedy was appointed to an advisory committee to further promote the idea. Kennedy and Ike Casey, executive director of the PHCC, also met with staff of 11 industry trade groups all affected by the plumbing and HVACR trade shortage.

Meanwhile, revenue generated from PHCC Partners for Professionalism helps underwrite many of the PHCC’s efforts. This year, the trade group updated plumbing/HVACR apprentice textbooks, held an instructor conference and promoted student scholarships.

Next year, the workforce issue will be discussed at the PHCC Leadership Conference and a tool kit will be developed for use at the state and local levels.

The press conference also included two PHCC chapters, which have already taken steps to recruit students to the trades. Steve Lehtonen, California PHCC executive director, discussed a concentrated apprentice training already under way and a new Green Plumbers initiative being developed. Nancy Jones, Texas PHCC executive director, said she has been busy reaching out to educators in high schools, vocational and technical schools and community colleges.