Four Maine high schools that were selected by the state Attorney General’s office to start plumbing training programs with funds received from a consumer protection settlement, trained nearly 100 students this 2017-2018 academic year.
“It’s not often enough that we see such tangible and immediate results from an investment,” said Janet T. Mills, Maine’s attorney general. In just three years, this funding has opened doors for hundreds of Maine young people to learn new skills and potentially take an important step toward a rewarding and sustaining career.”
In 2015, Mills settled a case against Bath Fitter of Portland for engaging in unlicensed plumbing activities, using non-conforming construction contracts, installing plumbing before plumbing permits were issued, misrepresenting employees’ license status, and engaging in plumbing installations that may violate the Maine State Internal Plumbing Code. The settlement, reached by consent judgment, included a monetary penalty.
The attorney general’s office determined that it would use the $500,000 in settlement funds to support four plumber training programs aimed at filling the plumber shortage in Maine. Mills selected Foster CTE at Mount Blue High School in Farmington, Lewiston Regional Technical Center, Oxford Hills Technical School, and Biddeford Regional Center of Technology. Each program received approximately $120,000 for two years to start the programs.
According to annual reports submitted to Mills, in addition to classroom training, students worked with local plumbers on projects in their community.
Students from the Farmington area installed plumbing for the office of the Western Maine Community Action. Students attending Biddeford Regional Center of Technology partnered with local plumbers, Local 716, and the Rotary Club. Additionally, students from Biddeford and Lewiston each participated in and won student plumbing competitions that included students from the community college system.
This past spring, Lewiston Regional Technical Center also co-hosted a Totally Trades event at Central Maine Community College, designed specifically to introduce 8th and 9th grade young women into the trades.
Many of the participating plumbing students have continued their studies either through paid internships or going on to plumbing programs at post-secondary institutions.
All of the four schools have secured either private or public funding to continue and in some instances expand their plumbing programs. In the Farmington area, local business owner, Richard Bjorn has offered to donate $235,000 each year for two years to that the program can continue and increase offerings such as HVAC training.