Released: May 25, 2017
Sarasota FL.: The plumbing trade recently welcomed 12 new graduates of Suncoast Technical College’s Plumbing Technician program at a ceremony at the college on May 24th. The students participated in a special tuition-free, nine month certification class sponsored by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative. The program is part of CareerEdge’s effort to recruit for and support young adults in earning industry-recognized credentials in high demand, high wage occupations.
Graduation day activities included a job fair with 7 regional plumbing companies on hand to help students discover the many opportunities available in the field. One employer, Dan Bouldry, owner of Terry’s Plumbing & Service, Inc. shared his excitement for the new graduates: “All of these graduates are so committed to this field and I am eager to have them work with us in this industry, and to watch them continue to grow and learn.”
Many of the graduates shared that the course taught them more than just plumbing skills. Nicholas Ernst said, “This class has taught me life skills, the importance of customer service and professionalism and that people will always need plumbers.”
The students are very aware that the career as a plumber is boundless. Entry pay for the graduates is about $15/ hour, with mean wages in the $50,000 range. Many of the students will now return to school, completely funded by their new full-time employers, for a four year apprenticeship program to further advance them in the trade.
Alayna Chavez, the only female in the program, explained that she saw that there was a true career in plumbing. She decided to enroll in the course because she was tired of working minimum wage jobs with no opportunity to move up or enhance her skills. At the end of the class she was known as the class’s “welding queen” for her excellence in soldering. “This industry is always growing and changing and the class and the instructor gave me the confidence to build a career, one that I can continue to grow in,” says Alayna.
The students also participated in CareerEdge’s “Bridges to Careers” soft skills training with modules such as communication, professionalism, and teamwork. Many of the graduates explained that plumbing is more than just fixing or installing a bathroom, but you also need to be able to communicate and work with customers. Some of the students had never been introduced to these topics before, and many learned that these skills were just as important as the technical skills.
For one student, Devin Stunkard, the tuition-free class allowed him to fulfill an ambition of learning a trade. After 10 years of working two to three minimum wage jobs, he decided it was time for a change in his life. “I was looking for a career that could sustain my family. The support I got from my teacher, CareerEdge and Suncoast Technical gave me a chance to start a career and not have to work in a coffee shop for the rest of my life. I have such respect for this profession now and the hard working people that are in it.”
The graduates now embark on a new journey, choosing an employer from the several that are hiring. With excitement of graduation, the students can look forward to a bright and promising future in a respected and every growing field.
Suncoast Technical College will offer another Plumbing Technician program beginning August 2017. To enroll in the program or find out more information, please contact the college at 941-924-1365.
About CareerEdge Funders Collaborative
CareerEdge is an innovative partnership of business, government, and philanthropic organizations that leverages public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The first regional collaborative of workforce investors in the southeastern United States to be designated as a site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, CareerEdge was created with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, City of Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Bank of America, Bradenton 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, and Manatee Community Action Agency. It is also supported by contributions from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Microsoft, Sarasota County Government, Jane’s Trust, JP Morgan Chase, Scheidel Foundation and United Way Suncoast . For more information about CareerEdge and its partners, please visit www.careeredgefunders.org or call 941.328.6985