You can drive through just about any neighborhood or down I-35 and see construction crews hard at work but you might not have noticed those crews are getting smaller and smaller.
Most industries have taken a big hit on employment numbers in the past couple of years and the trade industry as the population of plumbers in Central Texas is only so large.
Pipes bursting in a record number of homes and businesses during last year's deep freeze reminded us how critically important plumbers are to our community.
The problem is, there is a massive shortage of plumbers here in Central Texas.
”Even with this small storm we got coming up, I think it’s going to be a problem like we had last year. There wasn’t enough people and people were waiting months to get stuff done. The way this industry is going, there’s just not enough people,” said Earnest Finney, Professor of Building Trades, Central Texas College.
A shortage that plumbers on the job feel every day.
”I actually get calls from other plumbing companies to help them with their service. Most plumbers are out for 4 to 6 weeks right now and there is nothing going on. It’s just the normal,” said Doni Engel, Owner of Pro-Tech Plumbing in Killeen.
One problem is a lack of new people wanting to get into the industry and it’s a trend that professors at Central Texas College have definitely noticed.
”Mainly a lack of interest because they figure they can go do tech work, make more money and stay clean,” said Prof. Finney.
Those already on the job say the amount of new construction around town is also adding to a lack of plumbers available for emergencies and service calls.
”They’ve pretty much stayed to that construction side with maybe 1 or 2 service trucks. The reason being, the construction is their bread and butter, and the service just pays wages and things like that.” said Engel.
The growing lack of plumbers and other tradesmen is why Central Texas College is doing what it can to teach anyone interested in the industry.
”There is a lot of money to be made. Especially, with flipping houses and the way the housing market is now. A lot of houses are being bought and sold so a lot of repairs.” said Prof. Finney.
It can take 18-months, or even less, to get your basic certification through Central Texas College, and with demand as high as it is, it shouldn’t take long to find a job.