The Importance of Life-Long Education

February 8, 2019
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President

Emerging global trends reveal that the plumbing-heating- cooling (p-h-c) industry is changing rapidly. These changes include an ever-growing global internet economy, increasing speed of technological development, expanding client expectations and a shift toward reintermediation — a need for new intermediaries who can connect and bring together industry information and the users of that information. As a result, the challenge is for p-h-c contractors and related industry professionals to define the role they wish to play within the p-h-c marketplace. This trend is creating a choice for those within the profession to participate in a larger scope and role in the built community by providing expanded services to the consumer, and between industry professionals, all of which requires continuous life-long education.

The p-h-c profession is transitioning to a dynamic, interactive, knowledge-based, technology-oriented profession within which PHCC members are demanding a centralized integrated knowledge base that is accessible by members seeking solutions to specific problems they face as they operate their businesses. This trend creates the need for greater education and best practices that are comprehensive and easily accessible through:

  • Varied education delivery formats — As the pool of baby boomer members shrinks and the number of younger tradespeople, professionals from non-home-building industries and immigrant members rises, PHCC will diversify both its education content and delivery formats available to this diverse population. For example, education accessible via the Internet appeals to the tech-savvy and time-pressed younger professionals. Education will need to provide delivery options that benefit the maximum number of members. As the number of younger (and more technically adept) PHCC members increases, they will demand immediate access to PHCC knowledge in a format that best suits their needs. Knowledge is quickly becoming a commodity item, and, hence, the education products that PHCC produces are, in a sense, becoming commoditized products. We now see many more competitors out there with whom PHCC is competing for member participation.
  • Distance learning — Opportunities exist to expand multiple course delivery methods, especially given the new generation of members who are very comfortable with podcasting, webinars, audio seminars and other synchronous and asynchronous delivery of education. As PHCC develops additional business management programs, it will consider the appropriate instructional design processes for both curriculum-based and non-curriculum-based courses. In addition, PHCC will be sensitive to specific member concerns about potentially compromising course quality if courses are repurposed for flexible learning.
  • Continuous assessment of education priorities — PHCC must continue to aggressively survey members’ education priorities, satisfaction with products and awareness of resources. Survey analysis ensures that PHCC is expending resources that meet the needs of its members.

As a former instructor and facilitator, I believe that education helps PHCC contractors grow their businesses. A recent marketing study conducted for PHCC by McKinley Advisors noted that a PHCC contractor who belongs to a professional organization may be seen as more attractive to potential clients, but, more importantly, the level of credibility rises if that PHCC contractor holds an active license. Survey results show that 57 percent of respondents are far more likely or somewhat more likely to hire based on membership association, and that percentage grows when contractors market their continuing education as required by state licensing. Positioning education to be an ever-increasing benefit to PHCC members and their clients helps:

  • Stimulate sharing of best practices among fellow members.
  • Advance the profession and its value to society
  • Increase the number of contractors hiring apprentices and journeymen.
  • Train emerging and transitional workforce.

Former “Dirty Jobs” television show host Mike Rowe observes that, “The skills gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work.” Additionally, I believe we need to encourage continuous learning as a way of life — a way to enrich the work experience and bring ever-increasing value to society. PHCC—National will soon play a larger role by offering business management programs that complement the great education offered by the PHCC Educational Foundation. Those courses will include sales management, risk management, code training, customer service, labor management and technical training. Members also will have greater access to this training through online sessions as well as through PHCC state and local associations.

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