Millett bill to help vocational students get into careers wins committee approval

Posted: February 09, 2017 | Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development, Senator Millett

AUGUSTA — A bill that would help vocational students find good-paying jobs and address a skill shortage in Maine’s workforce cleared an initial hurdle in the Legislature Tuesday when it gained unanimous support at the committee level, signaling its likely passage by the full Legislature.

The bill — LD 37 “An Act To Provide a Career and Technical Education Training Option for Plumbers” by Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth — would allow students who study plumbing at a Career and Technical Education school to receive a journeyman-in-training license upon graduation.

The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee made a unanimous, bipartisan recommendation that the Legislature ought to pass the bill.

“I’m grateful the Committee saw the value in giving our students a fast-track toward rewarding careers in an in-demand field,” said Sen. Millett. “People don’t often think of plumbers, because we don’t like thinking about the need for one. But the fact is this is a skilled trade that offers good pay, and the demand for skilled plumbers is growing. Creating this license will help get more young Mainers on career paths, and fast.”

The bill earned the support of the Maine Education Association and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine, as well as career plumbers and instructors at Maine’s career and technical schools.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employment opportunities for plumbers will grow faster than the average. However, industry groups report there are not enough people entering the field to meet the demand.

The journeyman-in-training license would be issued by the Plumbers’ Examining Board and would allow a CTE graduate to begin working immediately upon graduation under the supervision of a licensed plumber. Hours worked as a journeyman-in-training would count toward the required number of hours necessary to become a journeyman or master plumber in their own right, and would give graduates the option to learn and earn those hours “in the field” as opposed to earning them at additional cost through further schooling.

Career and Technical Schools offer similar third-party certificates for those studying welding, carpentry, culinary arts, masonry and other skills, but plumbing is left off the list.

The bill now heads to the Senate for initial votes. That vote has not yet been scheduled.