Home study program for plumbing apprentices - December 05

As the plumbing industry continues to experience shortages in the labor pool, many contractors are looking for alternatives to maintain a competent workforce. While instructor-based apprenticeship programs are the often-preferred method of training, in many cases, it is simply not an option for would-be apprentices. To address this need, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Educational Foundation

As the plumbing industry continues to experience shortages in the labor pool, many contractors are looking for alternatives to maintain a competent workforce. While instructor-based apprenticeship programs are the often-preferred method of training, in many cases, it is simply not an option for would-be apprentices. To address this need, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Educational Foundation is revising its Plumbing Home Study Apprenticeship Program.

The four-year program is based on the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Plumbing Apprenticeship Program, which is being updated. The first-year home study manual is complete, and revisions are under way for the second through fourth year.

"The ability to work at home at their own pace is very appealing to nontraditional students, who usually are unable to attend traditional classes because of distance or personal circumstances,” said PHCC Educational Foundation Director of Apprentice and Journeyman Training Merry Beth Hall. "We’ve seen an increase in the number of students enrolling in the home study program, and expect an even larger increase now that the program is being updated. As a result, more skilled workers will be available to the industry."

The first-year program includes a copy of the newly revised first-year PHCC Educational Foundation Plumbing Apprentice Student Workbook, as well as tests and other support materials to assist the student in learning. Students work at their own pace, reviewing the text and taking tests when ready. The students complete the tests on paper, and then mail them in for grading. Test results are mailed back to students.

PHCC Educational Foundation staff administers the program, grading tests, tracking results and keeping supervisors informed about the apprentice’s progress. Free technical assistance is available for questions the student can’t answer with the help of his sponsor.

The student text contains many illustrations, relevant appendices and reference tables, as well as a comprehensive plumbing definitions section. The program was updated after a year of planning meetings with veteran apprentice training and curriculum development experts, who came up with the ideal strategy to update the plumbing apprentice program.

Updates of the second through fourth year of the program will be coordinated with the release of the PHCC Educational Foundation Plumbing Apprentice Student Workbook. The second-year manual will be available in early summer 2006 and the remaining manuals will follow on a timely basis. To order a copy, call 800/533-7694, or visit www.phccweb.org.