March 14, 2019
By Staff Writer, PHCC Educational Foundation
PHCC Academy Apprentice Courses + Your Own On-Site Labs =
A Solid Investment in Your Future Workforce
The Foundation’s Plumbing and HVACR eLearning Courses – offered through PHCC Academy® is a Department of Labor (DOL)-approved program that offers a “work at your own pace” alternative to classroom-based instruction for a four-year apprentice program.
What started as a flexible solution for apprentices is now helping contractors with a long-term recruitment, training and retention solution that blends the online courses with companies’ own on-site classroom and labs.
Building a Program From the Ground Up
“We started noticing a lack of skilled laborers, and it was difficult to recruit,” says Aimee Broussard of Broussard Mechanical in Biloxi, Mississippi. The company was looking to build an apprentice training program that could recruit potential workers right out of high school and put them through its own apprentice program. The state DOL recommended the Foundation’s PHCC Academy courses.
In just one year, Broussard Mechanical has 13 plumbing apprentices in its program, which consists of a combination of the Foundation’s online courses, its own on-site classroom and hands-on workstations (or “labs”), also on site, for practical training.
“The great thing about this program is that you can customize it however you want,” says Broussard, explaining that the apprentices – who sometimes have to work out of town – can take the classes online yet still collaborate via Skype with a journeyman plumber in the classroom. Other times, the apprentices read chapters at home and then work on a portion of the chapters together in the classroom. Regardless, all apprentices meet at least once a week to go through the lessons in the classroom and perform the hands-on training in the labs. “It’s been a very positive experience for us.”
Giving Apprentices a ‘Work-Life Balance’
Similarly, MSD, Inc., a mechanical contractor in Dayton, Ohio, started its own in-house apprentice program in August 2018 and already has 24 plumbing and HVAC apprentices tackling the mix of online courses through the PHCC Academy and on-site labs. Apprentices complete one unit a month online … “on their own time,” says Amber Lute, MSD’s apprenticeship program coordinator. “And then we also have a lab here that they attend twice a month, and the instructors match a hands-on approach with what they’re learning online.”
Lute views this solution as “more personal than sending the apprentices off to school and doing what the school wants.” She adds: “they’re working at their own pace, and we’re interacting with them more … they’re coming into the labs; they’re coming to see me; and they’re working with their instructors, who are also with them out in the field.”
Like Broussard Mechanical, MSD pays for the apprentice training, viewing it as a “scholarship” in return for completing their education through the company. And while the apprentices must come on-site for their two-hour lab twice a month, they have the freedom to complete their coursework on their own schedules so they have more time with their families. “It definitely gives them more of a work-life balance,” says Lute.
Bringing PHCC Academy to Your Business
The PHCC Educational Foundation offers online plumbing and HVACR apprentice courses for apprentices who need a non-classroom based method of receiving their apprenticeship instruction. For more information on how to enroll in the program and implement it in your state, please hit the button below.
The PHCC Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit established in December 1986 by PHCC members with the goal of helping their fellow contractors be more successful through education and professional training. These contractors believed and still believe that by helping their friends and their competitors, the whole profession benefits.