North Carolina is facing a serious shortage of plumbers. In fact, WRAL TV reported that in 2019, only 3 percent of the 5,500 licensed plumbers in North Carolina were under the age of 30. To address the shortage and meet the demands of local employers in the coastal region, Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) is starting a Plumbing and Pipefitting Apprenticeship program.
CFCC’s Plumbing Apprenticeship Program will have four levels. Students will have the opportunity to participate in both face-to-face and online instruction. CFCC has received $327,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund and can use these dollars to assist students enrolling in construction trades, including this apprenticeship program.
According to Erica Talbert, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development at CFCC, the Plumbing and Pipefitting Apprenticeship program could use help in recruiting more students for the inaugural class.
The Level One registered apprenticeship class begins October 26, 2020 and runs through May 6, 2021. The class will meet Monday and Thursday evenings at CFCC’s North Campus from 6-9pm. Interested parties can learn more by visiting CFCC Plumbing Apprenticeship.
Backstory on the Plumbing and Pipefitting Apprenticeship Program
CFCC’s Talbert met Teresa Woods Cox, owner and operator of TA Woods Company at the Wilmington Contractors Association annual gathering. Mrs. Cox’s enthusiasm for apprenticeships was contagious and the two began brainstorming and designing a program to meet local employers’ needs, with input from plumbers. The biggest hurdle from the outset was finding the right instructor.
“CFCC was fortunate to hire Steve Collins, New Hanover County Plumbing inspector, for the job,” said Talbert. “Steve has over 20 years of experience in all types of plumbing and will be a great asset to the apprenticeship program.”
State Funding Available to Reimburse Employers
Funding from the Department of Labor is available to reimburse employers who pay student registration fees ($190) and CFCC will assist employers to get the reimbursement. “CFCC is the sponsor for the plumbing and pipefitting apprenticeship so employers do not have to worry about the paperwork,” said Talbert.
CFCC wishes to expand interest in the apprenticeship program – using social media and connections in the local community. The Wilmington Contractors Association and Carolinas AGC have been very helpful in connecting CFCC with potential employer participants. A flyer with class information was mailed out last week to all plumbing companies in the area. For more information about the class and being a plumber or pipefitter, visit CFCC Plumbing Apprenticeship.
If you are an employer and would like more information about joining CFCC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Apprenticeship program contact Erica Talbert, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other CFCC Apprenticeship Programs
Apprenticeships are nothing new at CFCC. Over the past two years, CFCC’s Electrical Apprenticeship program has grown from 12 students to 70 with 15 local employers participating. Recently the Cape Fear Electricians Association donated $6,000 to that apprenticeship program for student assistance.
Additionally, CFCC has a pre-apprenticeship program in the Electrical Lineworker program, which has graduated more than 280 students who are now employed all over the country. The college also has an apprenticeship program for Fire Alarm System Technicians.
CFCC can also connect local employers who are looking for workers to apprenticeship students.
Talbert concluded by saying, “These apprenticeship programs are a win-win for students and employers. Students are guaranteed good starting wages, and raises upon completion of each level. Employers have a pipeline of well-trained employees and future employees.”