Educational Initiative an Effort to Keep Interest in Plumbing Trade Alive
Unfortunately, Tim Stewart of Memphis’ Stewart Plumbing said, there’s not a lot of places down in the south for people to learn trades.
Well, that’s about to change.
Stewart, along with the Memphis Area Plumbing Association (MAPA), is partnering with Moore Tech – a local Memphis technical college – to ramp up the plumbing program.
Moore Tech is a non-profit organization in Memphis and, Stewart said, they want to target local community people and educate them into the trades.
Stewart Plumbing’s Involvement
Stewart said he is a member of MAPA, a 20+ year organization that’s there for the purpose of expanding the plumbing industry in Memphis.
“We’ve come together with leadership from MAPA to put together a program working with a local technical college,” Stewart said.
But, what drew him to get involved with this school in the first place?
“It’s been my passion since day one, when I started this career in plumbing 30 years ago,” Stewart explained,” to launch a functioning apprenticeship program to help train people.”
If he had to do anything for the community, he said, that would be it.
And so, he and other industry leaders, did just that. He said, “We worked together in an effort to partner up with a local community trade school, Moore Tech. It was a natural fit for our association to partner with them for the administration of this plumbing program.”
Currently, Stewart said, his company has one apprentice enrolled in the class. “We’re committed to stick in the course with them and help them succeed with the program and assist them in developing other plumbing programs to benefit the community,” he said.
About the Plumbing Program at Moore Tech
Launched in the fall semester of 2013, Stewart said it’s a 3 year apprenticeship program that’s completed over nine trimesters. This means the students take classes in the fall, spring, and summer.
“Our desire with [Moore Tech] is to provide education through our plumbing association effort,” Stewart said, and to also use this educational initiative as a recruiting opportunity to gain candidates for our industry for future employment.
With a total of 9 students that have entered the program in the first year, Stewart said, “We’ve got good cooperation.”
But Stewart Didn’t Do It Alone
Stewart said he fell in behind the efforts of several hardworking fellow industry leaders that had the same passion for this effort.
These men are Benjie Sneed – the current president of MAPA and owner of National Economy Plumbing Company – Cody Childress with Splash Plumbing Company, Red Leblanc with Red Leblanc Plumbing Company, Harold McDonald with McDonald Plumbing Company and a handful of other industry leaders behind the scenes working to make this a success.
“There was a lot of effort from these men over the years to bring us to where we are today,” Stewart explained, “and I jumped in there with them to assist. Together we worked on this effort really hard last summer [and] I’m excited to be partnered up with this group of industry leaders.”
In addition to those mentioned above, Stewart said the other plumbing shops that are working with Moore Tech and MAPA by sending students are Cobb Plumbing Company and Culpepper Plumbing Company both located in Memphis.
“But,” he said, “we need other plumbing shops to help support this effort.”
All of these companies, Stewart himself included, he said, “Hope to keep the participation level going and keep educating people simply to make our trade better for future generations.”
Long-Term Goals for Moore Tech Program
Stewart said that the main opportunity this program offers the community is, “A resource to educate properly in the plumbing trade for the foreseeable future. The program is designed to take someone with no experience and bring him into the trade, train them, and line them up with employment.
So, what challenges will Stewart and the supporting plumbing companies face?
Well, Stewart said, “Our challenge ahead is to get the participation from our industry and the community. And to increase the speed of that process.”
Stewart said that he and all the others really want to sustain their industry and get young people interested in the trade. To do that, they plan on taking some recruiting efforts through local high schools and vocational schools.
While this plumbing program is still in its infancy, Stewart said, they are working toward getting proper accreditation. That way, there will be some financial assistance through grants and other programs to offset the cost of tuition on the student.
“There’s strength in numbers for the demand of applicants,” he said, “It’s something that we’re working on.”
If you live in the Memphis area and are interested in learning about the plumbing trade, then look no further. Stewart said Moore Tech is, “The only one trade school that I know of in the area that offers a program of this caliber.”
He continued, “Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of something great for our community and help us get the message out!”
Financial aid is available for those that qualify. To apply, visit the Moore Tech website. And, to inquire about an apprenticeship with Stewart Plumbing or other partnering companies, give Stewart a call today!
By Kaitlyn Manktelow