Usually, plumbers are the ones making house calls. But, one evening a week, a professional comes to Powell’s Plumbing in Winchester to provide instruction to 11 employees. It’s all part of a customized Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions Corporate Training program. The employees are in the first level apprenticeship plumbing class. A few are plumbing technicians, and the rest are helpers, said Joey Luttrell, general manager of Powell’s Plumbing.
Joey Luttrell and 11 employees at Powell’s Plumbing prior to class.
“We do a lot of in-house training,” he said. “Some employees have come from other companies or other backgrounds in the plumbing industry. We’ve been trying to do a lot of hands-on training here, but with the way the times are changing, we thought it would be better to invest in our employees and bring the class here. We are three classes in, and they’ve been great so far.” Luttrell said it will take about two years for the employees to progress through all four levels of apprenticeship offered by Workforce Solutions Corporate Training. “We’re trying to do back-to-back classes and keep the core group of people together,” he said. “We never want to hold our employees back. We’re going to offer these classes hopefully every year.”
Powell’s Plumbing is paying for its employees to take the class, so it is a good deal for the workers. And, luckily for Powell’s, nine of the 11 employees are Virginia residents, meaning they qualified for FastForward Credential Grant funding, bringing the total cost of tuition down by more than $14,000, a savings of over 50% off the full tuition rate. Through the FastForward Credential Grant employers can save up to 66% on select credential training programs when enhancing the skills of their workforce. “I would like to be able to have some other plumbers in the community enroll in future classes with us,” Luttrell said.
Luttrell is also a Workforce Solutions student. He is enrolled in the Leadership Institute, which uses team-based interactive collaboration to prepare new and emerging leaders grow their competencies and skills in 16 content areas. “I thought the leadership program would be a good experience for myself,” Luttrell said. “So far, I’m really impressed with everything that Lord Fairfax has done for us. It’s top-notch.”
Corporate training programs are offered onsite at an employer, neutral location, or Lord Fairfax Community College.
“We applaud Powell’s for seeing the value of using the credential funding to stretch their training dollar while enhancing the skills of their current and new employees,” said Larry Baker, Corporate Training Sales Manager. “This is a perfect opportunity to provide hands-on, expert-led training to grow their own workforce in the high-demand plumbing trade.”