Charter High School Program Offers Intro to Plumbing

ST. LOUIS The Plumbing Industry Council here, in cooperation with United Association Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, in November launched a new career and educational enrichment program at the AGC Construction Careers Center Charter High School. The new three-week program, Explore and Discover Your Options with PIC, was created specifically for 39 junior-level students in an attempt to expose

ST. LOUIS ¯ The Plumbing Industry Council here, in cooperation with United Association Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, in November launched a new career and educational enrichment program at the AGC Construction Careers Center Charter High School. The new three-week program, “Explore and Discover Your Options with PIC,” was created specifically for 39 junior-level students in an attempt to expose them to the various facets of the union plumbing and mechanical industries.

The goal of the program is twofold, according to the two organizations. First, the program will teach students the importance of applying academic disciplines to further their educational and career potential. Students will be encouraged to pursue a career path by continuing their education through a union construction apprenticeship-training program, community college or four-year college or university. Second, the program is designed to create an environment of exploration and discovery to demonstrate the various career fields and educational training required in the plumbing and mechanical industries.

PIC and Local 562 designed the curriculum for the hands-on program. Teaching strategies will focus on developing discipline, necessary skills, attitude and work ethic to be successful in a union construction apprenticeship program or other career fields.

“‘Explore and Discover Your Options with PIC’ will not only prepare our students for entry into the workforce or secondary education, but it will establish good work ethics and improve attendance and punctuality,” said Laynette Meyer, the charter high school’s administrator. “The Plumbing Industry Council is the first trade association that has stepped up to provide this hands-on instruction for young people. They said we’re here and ready to go. I hope this is the step that will encourage other trade associations to develop a partnership with us.”

Students will attend classes Monday through Friday at the school. For three successive Fridays, students will be transported to the Local 562 Apprenticeship Training School, where they’ll attend hands-on training classes conducted by Local 562 apprenticeship training instructors.

On the second Thursday of the program, students will visit a residential jobsite, a light commercial site, and either a hospital or school site to observe work being performed in the field by Local 562 plumbers and pipefitters. The Plumbing Industry Council is funding Local 562 instructors, class materials, student lunches and transportation to the apprenticeship training school and field sites.

“This program will help provide an opportunity for minorities to learn about the construction industry,” said Malcolm J. Sweet Jr., president of PIC’s board of directors. “We have no problem recruiting older qualified minorities, but this program will help us to recruit younger students. A lot of students with mechanical skills want to enter an apprenticeship program, but they don’t have the academic skills. This program will provide an opportunity to recruit qualified students who know basic geometry and trigonometry and who have reading skills higher than a 10th grade level. Those are two of our biggest challenges.”

Daily classes will focus on commercial and residential plumbing and pipefitting applications. The applications include cutting and threading pipe, care and use of basic materials and tools, processes and safety. In addition, instructors will teach students about water systems, backflow and plumbing devices, and connecting and assembling faucets and water closets.

Students are required to take weekly hands-on and written tests for assessment purposes.

At the conclusion of the three-week program, students will possess more knowledge of the academic and hands-on skills required for various plumbing and pipefitting industry positions, including craftworker, designer, field supervisor or inspector.

“This partnership will provide an awareness of career pathways leading to employment in the plumbing industry, the individual requirements for success and the rewards available to those that choose to prepare for future employment,” said Terry Eivins, director of apprenticeship and training at the charter high school.

Students participating in the pilot program attend the charter high school. The four-year facility was the first charter school to open in St. Louis in the fall of 2001. The school runs on an 11-month schedule beginning in late August, and provides students in grades nine through 12 with broad exposure to the construction industry and vocational preparation. The award-winning restoration process for the school was accomplished with a $4 million loan from a variety of local construction associations. Together, contractors and students installed new floors, wall coverings, windows, heating, air conditioning and electronic systems.

Nearly 2,700 charter schools operate in 36 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 684,000 students. Charter schools are open to all children who are residents of the St. Louis school district or who are eligible to attend a district school under a voluntary desegregation program. Charter schools encourage the involvement of parents in their child’s education.

The Plumbing Industry Council, a local union trade association affiliated with Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association, represents 120 union plumbing and mechanical companies in St. Louis. The council creates and promotes educational training programs to advance the principles of the trade and plumbing industry. More information about the pilot program is available by contacting G. Raymond Hefner, executive vice president of PIC, at 314/770-0093.

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