April 11, 2022

Investing In Skilled Trades Begins By Investing In Skilled Labor

Investing in the future of your business and of your industry are sometimes one in the same. Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric is using scholarships for students interested in the trades and an apprenticeship program to onboard aspiring technicians in plumbing, HVAC and electrical careers.

Meeting Future Demand

Applewood understands the importance of retaining their skilled employees, growing the trade industry’s pool of hirable candidates and fostering education within the industry. The demand for plumbers, HVAC technicians and electricians will grow by at least 15% over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

“We recognized competition in the hiring market and we understood the importance of affordable education,” said owner Josh Ward. He emphasized the need to foster growth in the talent pool. “We want to hire the best and know top-tier professionals want to be employed by someone they know will support them long-term.”

Ward, a master plumber himself, can relate to the needs of people starting their career in the skilled trades. Looking back on his beginnings, he said “My dad started Applewood in 1973, grassroots and the old-school way of learning. The process is similar today with strong mentors shaping the next generation. Now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to invest in the up-and-coming women and men considering a career in the trades.”

The Importance of Education in Trades

By 2031, the United States will have 171 million jobs but only 30% of those won’t require some sort of degree or technical training. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University, automation and hiring managers increasingly search for candidates who can adapt to complex changes. To address this issue, Applewood partnered with Red Rocks Community College to offer scholarships for both the fall and spring semester trade students in plumbing, HVAC and electrical.

“If we can help facilitate someone’s decision to enter a trade by offering aid,” Ward says, “We are doing things the right way for the right reason. If we strengthen our trades in any way, it strengthens us all.”

Garret Johnson was one of those people looking for an industry change. He was working a retail job and knew the skilled labor industry wasn’t going anywhere. With a new baby at home, Johnson made the decision to enroll at RRCC. Johnson was relieved when he discovered that he was one of the first recipients for Applewood’s scholarship for electrical studies.

“The more knowledge I can gain, the more I can bring to my future employer,” Johnson says, “I can rest a bit easier knowing that part of the cost of school will be taken care of by Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric. I can’t say in words what that means to me, truly.”

Scholarships and Apprenticeship For Trade Students in Colorado

The Applewood scholarship covers the two-year degrees offered by RRCC in addition to the 12 certifications surrounding HVAC trades and the 20 certifications in various electrical specialties. Of the HVAC graduates, 100% passed their certification exams upon completion of their program. Nearly 60% of students in the combined trades secure employment after graduation, according to a survey conducted by RRCC.

Along with Johnson, recent graduates and skilled technicians already working in the trades have an opportunity to apply for Applewood’s apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program was started five years ago with the goal to “train technicians the right way from the beginning,” said Molly Murphy, director of Service Experience, “So we can ensure our clients maintain confidence in Applewood and the services we provide.”

“I have no plans of going anywhere, so I’ll stay as long as they have me,” said Jason Plum nearing the end of an 18-month apprenticeship in HVAC and plumbing at Applewood. Plum learned about the apprenticeship program while attending RRCC. Plum will take his certification tests next month to be a certified technician with Applewood.

“I was provided the tools needed to learn both with my hands and my mind,” said Kevin Butcher, an apprentice with Applewood since June. Applewood provides a tool allowance for their apprentices in addition to covering costs for any tests and certifications the apprentice seeks to obtain. “From the beginning I had what I needed to be successful in HVAC.”

The apprenticeship program is one year for HVAC and two years for plumbing. Training begins with mentors in the field, learning from the masters of their respective trades and supplemented by industry-recognized online training and certifications to fill in the gaps. Applewood has maintained nearly all their apprentices upon completion of the program.

Leading the Industry in Trade Workers

Applewood continues to be an industry leader in cultivating and training new technicians for skilled trades. Creating different avenues for the up-and-coming trade workers and giving trade professionals opportunities to succeed.

Investing in the future of the trades is critical for the entire industry. For information on apprenticeships and scholarship requirements visit https://www.applewoodfixit.com/.

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