Promote Plumbing Jobs During Careers in Construction Month

The industry’s labor shortage can only be lessened by concerted efforts to spread awareness about the viable career opportunities available

Promote Plumbing Jobs During Careers in Construction Month

Russel Sweeney

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October marks Careers in Construction Month, a great time for construction and manufacturing companies across the nation to come together to engage and further discussions with others who may find a career in the trades to be a prosperous one.

At Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC), we focus heavily on the needs of the plumbing industry, looking at ways to bolster interest in a lucrative career path: being a plumber. While all building trades are affected by the labor shortage, plumbing especially faces a challenge when seeking new talent.

Builders have reported a 55% shortage of plumbers available for work, according to a survey in HBI’s Spring 2021 Construction Labor Market Report. And it doesn’t look like the shortage is stopping. Around 12 million students were enrolled full-time in colleges or universities in 2020, compared to about 630,000 people in the U.S. training as trade apprentices, reported PBS News earlier this year. It’s a huge disparity, and one we’re trying to combat by getting firsthand stories from plumbers who work in the field every day.

Recently, we visited Russel Sweeney, a plumber in Jacksonville, Florida. During our time together, he explained why he chose a career in the plumbing industry. Sweeney hadn’t originally planned on entering the trades as a plumber, but he gradually realized the opportunity it offered after his father-in-law brought him on as an apprentice. 

“When my father-in-law hired me and started paying me what I was making, I was blown away,” says Sweeney. “Coming from where I came from, it was something I could be proud of, and somewhere in the mix, I really began to enjoy what I was doing.” 

Sweeney fell in love with plumbing and being able to make something from nothing. When he was a kid, college wasn’t a viable option without the aid of a scholarship. Plumbing helped him to pursue a bright future and a lucrative business at no exorbitant cost, changing the trajectory of his life. By the time he was 25, he decided to go into business for himself.

“My goal was just to build something bigger than myself and carve our little mark in history,” he says.

Now, after several years of owning his own plumbing business, he is married with three kids and owns five chickens and 90,000 honeybees. Sweeney doesn’t regret the path he took. He’s able to do what he loves, spend time with his family and delve into hobbies outside of work. After years in the trade, he can see all the opportunity there is for others in plumbing.

“Plumbers are falling away from the trade faster than they are coming into the trade and it’s creating one of the most in-demand businesses today,” Sweeney says. “It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world; everyone needs running water and flushing toilets.”

Running water is a necessity. No matter what is happening in the world, homeowners will call their plumber to fix a kitchen sink or a bathroom leak, making it a very recession-proof job. 

This month, we encourage you to share your plumbing success stories. Tag SharkBite on your favorite social media platform (such as Facebook @SharkBitePlumbingSolutions and Instagram @SharkBitePlumbing) with your story for a chance to be featured. Together we can educate the general public and young people on the opportunities, benefits and feeling of pride to be had by choosing a career in the trades. There’s so much opportunity and together we can spread the word. 

To learn more about Russel Sweeney’s full story, watch the full video here.  

About the Author

Chris Carrier is the director of marketing, Americas at RWC, which includes SharkBite, HoldRite, Cash Acme and John Guest. With over 15 years of experience in building brands, marketing strategy and driving growth, Carrier oversees the company’s marketing strategy and execution.


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