Plumbing Manufacturers Face Workforce Shortages

June 13, 2018

A skilled workforce is fundamental to the plumbing manufacturing industry, but the United States faces a growing “skills gap”—making it difficult for plumbing manufacturers to hire qualified workers for well-paying jobs. The U.S. economy is growing, but that growth is constrained by a shortage of qualified workers. The U.S. manufacturing sector currently has more than 350,000 unfilled skilled jobs, and millions of manufacturing employees are expected to retire in the next few years.

Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) members report a talent shortage in the industry – from production level, maintenance and technician positions, to machinists, engineers and industrial designers. Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. To compete globally, plumbing manufacturers require high-quality workers, as well as a strong technical workforce.

We are also concerned about the growing shortage of skilled plumbers for installing and maintaining plumbing systems in residential and commercial properties across the nation. This is a major challenge for contractors and their customers. With demand rising, many plumbers are retiring or are set to retire over the next five years. The National Association of Home Builders reports that more than half of America’s skilled trade employees are nearing retirement age.

PMI supports better coordination among our educators, government agencies, and the private sector to recruit individuals with the K-12 foundation and necessary job training into the manufacturing sector to fill these vacant positions. Federal funds slated for higher education programs should be available for non-traditional, non-4-year programs such as apprenticeships, technical colleges, and community colleges with manufacturing programs.

Message to Congress

PMI urges lawmakers to support passage of the following:

  • Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act (H.R. 2353) - Legislation to reauthorize Perkins loans, increase student participation in work-based learning opportunities, and promote the use of industry-recognized credentials and other recognized post-secondary credentials. Bill passed the House unanimously in June 2017. Career and technical education programs provide a critical role in growing our workforce with skilled workers. Urge the Senate to approve this important legislation.
  • Increased Investment in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act – Increase funding for the Perkins State Grant program (Title I) in the FY19 Labor HHS appropriations bill. The Perkins grant program provides the principal source of federal support to strengthen the career and technical education at secondary and post-secondary institutions.

For further information, contact

Stephanie Salmon, PMI Federal Government Affairs