A few years ago, Bobby Perkins sat in on several meetings with local businesses interested in developing a plumbing program at Thomas Nelson. For one reason or another, that idea fell to the wayside, according to Perkins, the director of trades training and an instructor in Workforce Development.
However, he never gave up on that idea, and now he’s ready to start such a program at the College.
“I think there is a need, and from what I’m hearing, there’s still a need in the area,” he said.
He was hoping to have classes start in January of this year, then tried for May. Now, the target is the fall semester.
“We’ve been trying to align our start date with the Academic Affairs side,” he said. “So we’re going to try to start around the same time (they) start their classes.”
The College currently offers some plumbing classes in its Facilities Maintenance program, but this will be a brand new program devoted to plumbing. It will consist of four classes, and take a little more than a year to complete. However, completing just the first two levels will take about six months and qualify a student for a registered apprenticeship.
Perkins said the Center for Building and Construction Trades at the Goodwill Center in Hampton offers more than 4,000 square feet of space. There are two small-scale houses, one with a crawl space and one on a slab.
“They’ll be able to get under the house and do some work under there,” Perkins said. “They can install toilets and sinks, they have that capability. All of that is incorporated into those courses.”
When a student completes the four courses, they will have earned a National Center for Construction Education and Research credential for basic safety, Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 certificates, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10 certification, and a certificate of completion from Thomas Nelson. Perkins talked with a local business owner who looked over the curriculum and gave him advice.
“He thought it was a good program,” Perkins said. “He gave me some ideas about equipment we would need, and supplies to get (us) started. He walked me through those things.”
Perkins said he needs a minimum of six students, and there’s a maximum of 12. There are a number of financial aid options available, including FastForward, Workforce Credentials grants, and Financial Aid for Noncredit Training leading to Industry Credentials (FANTIC).
For more information, call Franz Albertini at (757) 825-4070, or go to tncc.edu/programs/workforce.
“I really do want to get this program up and running,” Perkins said.