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East Texas’ February freeze highlights importance of trade workers

The February freeze showed plumbers how necessary their work is and highlighted the fact that fewer people are getting into the "trades."
Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 1:08 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The February freeze that left many East Texans in need of a plumber, illustrates a problem that those in the plumbing industry have known for years. There aren’t enough young people going into trades like plumbing.

In Longview, that was evident when homeowners had to wait for days, sometimes weeks, because there weren’t enough plumbers to answer the calls for help.

An event like February’s winter storm, was one that Glen Parker, of ‘Richard Parker Plumbing’ in Longview, feared would come one day.

It revealed a shortage of skilled tradesmen.

“You’re always going to need plumbers! There’s a major shortage. It’s the tech age and people don’t want to work with their hands like they used to. They want to make a lot of money immediately and that’s easier to do in tech than it is in trade,” Glen says.

Kilgore college has trade classes, mainly in auto mechanics and welding, and according to the ‘National Center for Education Statistics’, numbers of trade school enrollments have doubled since 1999.

But plumbing is not one of them.

A surprise to Parker, since a good living can be earned through in it.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that you can make a good living doing it,” he says.

One high school student thinks it’s because tech-age jobs turn some away from working with their hands.

“I think it’s just because it’s an easier way out. And they don’t want to do any hard labor and actually work,” said 17 year old Spring Hill student Jaden James.

The Parkers would like to see a school program initiated that would teach high-schoolers trades like plumbing.

Though tech jobs are attractive to young people, Glen believes they may not always be there.

“If there are changes in technology, you might not have a job in it later. But with plumbing! Everybody has to have plumbing,” he says.

Parker Plumbing has hired on one more licensed plumber, but say they still need more applicants.

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