2018 is shaping up to be a productive year for new construction.
According to CNBC, optimism in the construction sector is at a record high, with 30,000 new construction jobs being added in December 2017 (U.S. Department of Labor). That brings the number of construction jobs added in 2017 to 210,000, a 35% increase over the previous year.
That is a far cry from the 2008 recession, when 1.5 million residential construction workers left the industry. According to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC), plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters still face a 100,000-person labor shortage due to the recession. While the market for new construction is growing again, many contractors find themselves leaving money on the table for lack of skilled workers.
To combat this, contractors are utilizing new technologies and systems to shorten the time spent at jobsites and minimize installation errors, such as a push-to-connect plumbing solution like the one from SharkBite Plumbing Solutions, manufacturer of plumbing fittings, valves and PEX pipe.
For plumbers, efficiency is more important than ever
While the need for skilled tradespersons is increasing, the pool of skilled plumbers is declining. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for plumbers is expected to grow nearly 12% by 2024. However, the bureau also predicts large numbers of plumbers will retire in the next 10 years. This is compounded by the fact that fewer young people are pursuing skilled trades and there are fewer apprenticeship programs in which to learn traditional plumbing skills, such as crimping and soldering.
Manufacturers are working to solve this problem with innovative product releases. One example is the SharkBite EvoPEX system, which enables the installer to plumb a water pipe installation from meter to fixture without needing special tools. This not only improves efficiency, but the ease of use means higher quality work and less risk of leaks due to installation errors. A green visual indicator on each fitting also allows installers to quickly check their work and have assurance that a sound, permanent connection has been made.
In the new economy, plumbers must be innovative
Todays service plumbers and plumbing mechanical contractors are facing many challenges, none so critical as finding and retaining the right employees and managing their investment in equipment and other assets. While technology will never be a substitute for expertise, new innovative product solutions are key in today’s competitive environment, it comes down to finding ways to improve efficiency. Being able to do the same, or more, with less. New product solutions, like the SharkBite EvoPEX system, can play a significant role in helping the trade address these challenges.