PHCC Summit Seeks Solutions to Louisiana Worker Shortage

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC) sponsored a workforce summit Jan. 23 in New Orleans, LA, to focus attention on the city’s shortage of skilled plumbing and HVACR industry workers, and plan for the future.


The entire state of Louisiana continues to experience a severe worker shortage following Hurricane Katrina. The question is, what to do to attract new talent to careers in plumbing, heating, and cooling.


Gerry Kennedy of the PHCC Educational Foundation provided an update on resource materials available for training plumbing and HVACR technicians to industry standards, and PHCC president Jim Finley, C.N. Finley, Inc., New Orleans, explained that nationwide, the plumbing and HVACR industry needs more than 100,000 workers each year. In Louisiana, jobs for plumbing and HVACR technicians are expected to increase by 13% between now and 2014.  
“With these types of statistics, it’s extremely important that everyone involved with recruiting and training future workers in all regions of the country work together to solve the worker shortage” Finley says. “That’s why we’re setting up meetings in several areas to talk about what can
be done.”


The Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative is a partnership involving federal, state, and local government agencies, businesses, community organizations, and construction trade groups and associations — with a goal of recruiting and training up to 20,000 new construction craft workers for the Gulf Coast region by the end of 2009. It’s key action plan is called Gulf Rebuild: Education, Advancement and Training (GREAT).


Tim Horst, president, Becon Construction, Houston, TX, says the staffing problem is caused by too many trades chasing too few workers.


“All the trades are going after the same population,” Horst says. “For the construction industry to get their share of students, all the construction trades need to be focused in the same direction.”


Communicating the right message, reaching the correct people and taking personal responsibility also were emphasized during the summit.  


Jerry Payne, the Louisiana PHCC’s representative to the Louisiana State Plumbing Board, says parents should be included in outreach efforts.


“Not only do we need to make students aware of opportunities in the trades, parents need to know about these opportunities, too,” Payne says. “For example, we need to find ways of showing parents that their kids can get free postsecondary training.”


The next step in the Louisiana outreach is to develop a plan to train workers to build and maintain the infrastructure needed in the state and region. Future workforce summits are planned for North Carolina, Ohio, and Oklahoma.


For additional information, contact PHCC at 800/533-7694 or visit www.phccweb.org. Visit www.imgreat.org for additional information on the GREAT program.

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