Licensed apprentices help plumbers meet overwhelming demand

Governor Greg Abbott’s decision adds to apprentices already on the job

SAN ANTONIO – Plumbers in San Antonio and across Texas overwhelmed by the demand following last week’s historic cold will be getting even more help from licensed apprentices thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement allowing at least 500 licensees in response to the crisis under “general supervision.”

“I’m all for it,” said Keith Brunner, a board member with the trade association, Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors.

Brunner said because as it is now, apprentices are waiting longer for their test dates to be further licensed.

His association was on this week’s call with the governor.

“We can put the two apprentices by themselves to do emergency repairs because a one-year license is a water license, so they can actually do water lines,” Brunner said, according to Abbott.

The apprentices that Brunner already has are ready to take the test for their journeyman-tradesman license.

“We’re not just putting green one-year apprentices out there doing jobs. They are experienced,” he said.

If a master plumber is not on the job site when there’s a problem, Brunner said, “We’re in direct contact with each other,” Brunner said. “There’s plenty resources for them to get it done correctly.”

By having two people doing the work, Brunner said the job goes quicker so they can move on to the next call.

He also said apprentices help lower the cost of the work since they’re not as expensive as plumbers.

Joshua Short, a licensed apprentice, said it’s an opportunity to sharpen his skills when they’re needed most.

He’s been getting a lot more experience lately.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Short said. “A lot of broken pipes, a lot of frantic customers.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.