Texas Border Business
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Javier Southerland grew up on an orange farm in Florida trying his hand at the many areas that encompass trade jobs, so when he moved to Brownsville, Texas Southmost College was his top choice for workforce training.
The 33-year-old student earned his certificate of completion earlier this month from TSC’s Workforce Training Plumbing program. He was introduced to the program when he started working on campus as a security guard.
“I was exposed at a young age to the trades,” he said. “I’ve always loved working with my hands and plumbing piqued my interest immediately. Everyone needs a plumber, so when I realized TSC offered the program and I received a full scholarship I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The Florida native said he always knew a traditional classroom experience with lectures and books wasn’t for him, so he is happy to see the attention TSC has given to workforce training for students like him.
“The hands-on training approach that TSC has taken to give us career opportunities in leading trades is great,” said Southerland. “I’ve already been able to establish a foundation to start a successful career as a plumber.”
Southerland, who because of this program is already a licensed apprentice with the state of Texas, said the training he received has helped him connect the dots and put what he has learned to good use.
He now has a part-time weekend plumbing job to begin gaining the hours he needs to grow in the field, achieving the outcome the course was designed to produce.
TSC Director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education for Construction and Manufacturing Thomas Tynan said he is glad to see students achieving success in programs like plumbing because it means students are getting the training they need to fill a skills gap in industry.
“The demand for plumbers is increasing exponentially,” said Tynan. “The average age right now of a master plumber is 63-years-old and the industry is struggling to find skilled plumbers to take their place when they retire. It’s going to take at least a decade to catch up.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow 16% over the next few years, faster than average for other occupations.
Tynan said TSC’s Plumbing program was introduced in September and has already helped numerous students become registered apprentices with the state of Texas and earn Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10 certificates.
“When students complete our program they are ready to enter the field as entry-level workers, working as apprentices under master plumbers,” he said. “They are taught by master plumbers in class on industry-standard equipment. They are more than ready to join the workforce.”
TSC’s Plumbing program is 14 weeks or 160 hours to complete and covers everything from pipe materials to vents and drains.
Students learn how to cut, measure, join and support various types of piping, pipe valves, and pipe hanging systems. They also learn how to apply calculations related to the plumbing trade, proper hand and power tool usage, as well as standard industry safety practices.
“Plumbing is one of the most important trades in the industry today,” said Tynan. “It is a life-long career and plumbers see great success with continued learning and hard work. Plumbing is the key to civilization and with the population increasing, the need is nationwide.”
TSC has full scholarships available for its Plumbing program. The next class begins at the end of January.