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Ride and Decide: Giving Students a Taste of the Trades

For PHCC President Mike Barker, the Ride and Decide program offered by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino, is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about an exciting career in the plumbing trade.

While the program has been aimed specifically at young women, men, and high school students, Barker, contractor and owner of Barker and Sons Plumbing & Rooter, recently had the opportunity to expand the association’s message beyond high schools, presenting the program to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. As he sees it, “We’ll go anywhere the kids are. They need to know the trades are a great option when looking at their future, at their possible career.”

Where There’s a Need, There’s a Ride

For plumbing business owners, Ride and Decide is a fabulous way to raise awareness about the profession while identifying those young people who are best suited to a plumbing career.

For many students, college makes sense. For others, a trade school, apprenticeship program, or a combination of both is the better choice. The bottom line: the more information young people have, the better prepared they are to choose the best career path for them.

Ride and Decide’s mission is simple but comprehensive:

1. Offer options that encourage young men and women to consider the trades as an option to college.
2. Educate young people on the many benefits of working in the plumbing industry, including:

-Competitive wages and flexible hours.
-Less expensive educational and training fees compared to a 4-year college degree.
-Low career obsolescence – people will always need plumbing, heating and cooling.
-Opportunities for career advancement and business ownership.

3. Bring together educators and contractors ready to dedicate the time and effort to setting up a successful program.
Every program participant has the opportunity to work for and receive compensation by a member plumbing contractor, and some students go on to secure work through a co-op program.

Programs to recruit and retain skilled workers are a great way for young people to get paid while learning if a plumbing career is the right choice for them. As for Mike Barker, he’s looking forward to training the next generation of plumbers, preparing them to find and fix leaks, service sewers, and provide other value plumbing services to the communities they live in.

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