Skilled to Work: Employers say knowledge, training incentives key to boosting plumbing workforce

Statistics from the Alabama Department of Labor show an overall growth in the industry, but that doesn't tell the full story.

Posted: May 30, 2019 2:49 PM
Updated: May 30, 2019 7:12 PM

Some say teaching by example is the best way to inspire. For 19-year-old Jacob Crider, that inspiration came from watching his superintendent, Jeff Woodward. It led him into the world of plumbing just a couple of years after high school.

“I look up to him a lot. So him being in it 30 something years, makes me want get there and find a job or a company that is home,” said Crider.

19-year-old Jacob Crider helps establish floor measurements before helping to install the plumbing system in Central School's new dining hall. 19-year-old Jacob Crider helps establish floor measurements before helping to install the plumbing system in Central School's new dining hall.

Right now, Crider is working with Early Services Inc. to lay plumbing for the new dining expansion for Central School in Madison County.

Jeff Woodward, a superintendent for Early Services, said misconceptions about the job and a lack of interest in plumbing is slowing industry growth for young people. He said once they see what the job is actually like, it can spark excitement.

“They’ve come in and seen what we do and they’re like ‘Yeah, I want to learn this. This is going to be good,’” said Woodward,

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, the last three years have shown an increase in the number of certified plumbers, meaning those at the journeyman or master level.

However, the number of plumbers who haven’t reached certification has gone down. Officials said that could be an indication of fewer young people joining the profession.

Jim Batson is a sixth-generation master plumber and owner of H.C. Blake. The company has been in business in Huntsville since 1884.

He said they key to attracting younger employees is to seek out the passionate ones.

“There are plenty of young people out there that really want to work, they just don’t know what to work in. And so that’s the treasure and it’s basically locating the treasure in the treasure hunt,” said Batson.

Batson said providing additional training is also important for attracting more workers. That’s why two years ago, H.C. Blake built a training center not only for its plumbers, but also for the heating and air conditioning workers.

“If I train them here, and they go to Sacramento, they can find a job the next day. So it’s basically a scalable job,” said Batson.

He added that it’s key for companies like his to invest in training to keep the industry growing.

“I’m looking for my industry for the next hundred years. And so, I wish I would’ve started this in 1884,” said Batson.

Meanwhile, Crider will start studying to get his own journeyman’s license this August. He said the reward of the business is seeing the finished product.

“Just getting to look at it and drive by it and be like, hey, I welded in that building or I did all the plumbing in that building.

To learn more about plumbing in north Alabama, click here or here.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 83°
Florence
Few Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 86°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 82°
Decatur
Few Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 84°
Scottsboro
Overcast
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16823

Reported Deaths: 605
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 21679

Reported Deaths: 356
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson489460
Shelby4718107
Trousdale13934
Rutherford111622
Sumner85245
Hamilton71915
Bledsoe6081
Williamson53310
Putnam4615
Robertson4412
Tipton4303
Lake4130
Wilson3878
Out of TN3794
Knox3575
Bedford2744
Montgomery2613
Rhea1980
Hardeman1940
Madison1752
Loudon1370
McMinn13614
Macon1243
Cheatham1180
Cumberland1111
Dickson1100
Fayette1102
Bradley1081
Blount893
Maury810
Sevier762
Washington750
Coffee680
Unassigned670
Wayne630
Gibson611
Monroe612
Sullivan602
Hickman570
Lauderdale561
Dyer500
Franklin491
Greene482
Anderson391
Marion381
DeKalb370
Grundy321
Hawkins312
Haywood302
Smith301
Hamblen302
Henry300
Marshall301
White300
Obion281
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Meigs260
Overton260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Lawrence240
Warren220
Cocke200
Carter191
Jackson170
Morgan170
Cannon170
Campbell171
Roane160
Crockett162
Perry160
Johnson160
Polk150
Sequatchie150
Henderson140
Humphreys131
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
McNairy120
Scott110
Stewart110
Hardin112
Claiborne90
Houston80
Benton71
Grainger60
Clay60
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Unicoi40
Moore30
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events