Workforce development, water efficiency and waterborne diseases were among the issues discussed April 22 during the third annual meeting of the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition in Washington. PILC brings together the executives of industry groups such as the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, American Supply Association, Plumbing Manufacturers International, American Society of Plumbing Engineers, United Association, International Code Council and International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.
The shortage of employees caused by workers who have retired or left the industry during the recession — as well as competition from other industries — has raised concerns at all levels of the plumbing industry. Cindy Sheridan of PHCC and Mike Adelizzi of ASA presented a report on what associations are doing to attract more people to work in the plumbing industry.
“At the current rate of retirement, it is estimated that by 2016 the industry will need 700,000 new workers,” Adelizzi said. “Part of the challenge of filling these jobs is changing the image of the industry and letting students, counselors, parents and military veterans know about the lucrative career opportunities that are available.”
ASA partners with Industrial Career Pathways, a consortium of associations dedicated to educating high school, college and technical school students about careers in industrial distribution. ASA has launched its own Women in Industry group and developed a career site.
PHCC and its Educational Foundation have developed a four-year plumbing apprentice curriculum that the U.S. Department of Labor has approved. DOL also has recognized PHCC’s e-learning courses for apprentices who need a nontraditional method of receiving apprentice-related instruction. A career video targeting middle and high school students can be viewed on YouTube and www.phccweb.org.
MCAA supports its student chapters at universities across the country. It also works with ACE Mentor, a national program that mentors high school students interested in careers in design and construction.
UA officials partner with the U.S. military to create the Veterans in Piping program, which offers skills training and jobs in the pipe trades to veterans and active-duty military personnel preparing to leave the service. Helmets to Hardhats is a national nonprofit program that helps military personnel transition back into civilian life and careers in the construction industry.
ASPE is offering an online plumbing design course, which it developed with UCLA. It is in the process of creating an associate degree program for plumbing design with the City College of San Francisco. It exhibited for the first time at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which was held April 26-27 in Washington and attended by elementary and high school students from across the country.
Following the PILC meeting, the group circulated a letter urging U.S. Senate members to support the WaterSense Efficiency, Conservation and Adaptation Bill of 2014. The legislation seeks to improve water-use efficiency and promote smart water systems to conserve water and reduce costs.