How is the School of Skilled Trades better than other schools?

The School of Skilled Trades will have several advantages over its competition. Consistent with most community colleges, both Durham Tech and Wake Tech have poor graduation and retention rates according to the College Scorecard: Durham Tech graduates 12% of its students and retains only 55% after their first year; Wake Tech graduates 17% of its students and retains only 68% after their first year. The outcomes are poor, even when considering the transfers-out rate: 28% for Durham Tech and 30% for Wake Tech, according to www.collegetuitioncompare.com. The School of Skilled Trades will dedicate resources to assisting students with remaining in school and achieving graduation. As the School works toward accreditation, it will need to maintain graduation and retention rates that exceed those of these two competitors.

The Durham and Chapel Hill areas are devoid of a plumbing school, so the School will fill that need in our community. The plumbing certificate courses offered by Wake Tech are found only at its Southern Wake Campus, south of Raleigh and more than a 40-minute drive from downtown Durham. That distance combined with the fact that Durham Tech only offers a plumbing course (not a program), the School will fill a void in its geography that will assist our community and increase the likelihood of our graduates finding entry-level positions following graduation.

We also have an advantage given that our founders and instructors at the School of Skilled Trades are tenured, licensed plumbers who have run their own plumbing contractor business. They know not only the hard skills necessary for success, but the intangibles that allow employees to progress in their careers—timeliness, a solid work ethic, respect, communication skills. These soft skills will also be a part of the six-month curriculum and will prepare students to interview better, be more appealing to potential employers and to progress in their careers once hired. This type of individualized attention is difficult to find at large community colleges.


Why do we need the School of Skilled Trades?

The School of Skilled Trades is a vocational school in the proprietary education sector. This sector equips millions of students from diverse economic and social backgrounds with access to career-focused learning and the job skills they need to enjoy a successful future. Skilled workers are in demand, with government estimates projecting 46.5 million workers needed by 2024. Multiple sources have highlighted the shortage of skilled workers, particularly in the trades.

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC) and the PHCC Educational Foundation have recognized the shortage in plumbing. “We need more than 100,000 new workers to take care of the ones that are retiring,” said Cindy Sheridan, chief operating officer, PHCC Educational Foundation. Many experienced plumbers are retiring or left the profession during the prolonged recession. Because of the growing demand for skilled workers, plumbing offers well-paying positions and strong career prospects for Americans of all ages.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which tracks employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters, said there were 425,000 jobs in this field in 2014 with an estimated increase of 49,100 jobs (12 percent) by 2024. The median pay (not the starting wage for entry-level positions) in 2015 was $50,620 per year or $24.34 per hour. Construction of buildings that need new plumbing systems, particularly in the Southeast following recent natural disasters, should drive demand for these workers, according to the BLS. “Although overall job opportunities are expected to be good, some employers are continuing to report difficulty finding qualified workers,” said the BLS. In 2018, the Associated General Contractors of America conducted a survey of construction firms across the nation. The survey showed that nationally, 75 percent of respondents said they were expanding their headcount. However, in North Carolina the numbers are much higher. According to Carolinas AGC, 78 percent of firms reported they're having a
hard time filling salaried positions. For skilled trade positions, 93 percent said they were struggling. The North Carolina environment is prime for vocational training in the skilled trades--and we are here to fill that need!


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