What is National Skilled Trades Day?
What is National Skilled Trades Day, and what is its importance? National Skilled Trades Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday in May. City Machine Technologies, Inc. founded National Skilled Trades Day to bring awareness to the skilled trades shortage facing the United States. The day also celebrates those who work in the trades, shedding a positive light and celebrating the importance of skilled trades jobs. Many highly skilled workers fill a multitude of careers across our nation, including construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and service industries.
Why Are Skilled Trades Important to the Water Works Industry?
Water and wastewater infrastructure are true essentials in our lives. This blog focuses on those who build pipelines – specifically to show appreciation to the skilled workers building resilient, long-lasting, environmentally friendly Ductile iron pipe (DI pipe) projects for Iron Strong cities and communities across North America and beyond.
How Are Skilled Trades Applied Before the Water Works Project Begins?
Before any actual construction of a pipeline can begin, a person skilled in reading blueprints must study the prints and review specifications to understand the scope and layout of the project. This person must also determine what work, equipment, and tools will be required to complete the project. Additionally, this skilled worker must understand a "take-off" to determine what material will be required for the project. They must obtain pricing and lead times for those materials and ensure the products meet the necessary specifications.
How Are Skilled Trades Applied During Construction of the Water Works Project?
Once on-site construction begins, skilled trade workers are needed to operate various types of construction equipment. The types, numbers, and size of equipment vary depending on the size and scope of the project.
Equipment operators are skilled in operating several different types of equipment. Common construction equipment used in site preparation and underground utility installation include bulldozers for clearing or removing debris, soil, and rocks, excavators and backhoes for moving earth, digging holes or trenches, graders for leveling, and rollers for compaction.
When the installation of the DI waterline is ready to begin, a trench is dug, and a skilled equipment operator lowers the pipe into the trench, putting to use their hand-eye coordination. They must be observant at all times of the crew working in and alongside the trench.
In addition to the skilled equipment operators at a job site, truck drivers – be it the drivers delivering DI pipe, hauling gravel, or hauling off debris– all play an essential part in the construction world.
What skills are required to be a construction equipment operator? This professional must have mechanical ability, good problem-solving skills, good hand-eye coordination, physical strength, stamina, and work well with their hands. They must have the ability to work in various weather conditions throughout the seasons. They may be exposed to dust, noise, and vibration at construction sites. Safety protocol must be followed to ensure the safety and well-being of the operator and other personnel on the job site.
Who takes care of all this heavy equipment? The answer to that would be heavy equipment technicians, also skilled trades workers. Heavy equipment technicians maintain, repair, and overhaul heavy equipment, requiring dexterity, and good eye-hand coordination for working in narrow spaces. They are also responsible for keeping accurate service records and parts inventories. Heavy equipment technicians also require knowledge of various hand tools and their uses. In addition to knowledge of hydraulics, electronics, on-board computers, diesel/gas engines, braking, and track and wheel systems.
Let’s Celebrate All the Skilled Trade Workers
We appreciate the skilled trade workers involved in installing pipelines and the part they play in the ability to bring clean, safe drinking water, along with fire protection, to the people in their communities. The workers should take pride in their role in that regard as well, along with the knowledge that when installing Ductile Iron pipe, they are utilizing an environmentally friendly, strong, flexible product with a long service life (100+ years) and made in the USA.
While the focus of this blog was on skilled trades workers building Iron Strong pipelines, National Skilled Trades Day is a great time to think about, acknowledge, and say thank you to the countless skilled trades workers that help make our world go around. That might include an EMT that helped you or a family member out, a mechanic that repaired your vehicle, a veterinary technician that took good care of a furry family member, or the person that fixed your furnace so you had heat again on a cold winter day. The list is endless.
Along with being an appropriate time to give a shout-out of appreciation to our skilled trade workers, it is also an opportune time to encourage more people to pursue a skilled trade path. Recently published data relating to the county I live in indicates this county alone needs 3,500 additional skilled trades workers this May for significant infrastructure projects coming down the pipeline and already in progress.
Did You Know McWane Offers a Skilled Trades Scholarship?
McWane, which is McWane Ductile’s parent company and a world leader in the manufacture of waterworks and monitoring products, recently launched the McWane Scholarship for Skilled Trades, a new initiative aimed at promoting trade and technical education and in celebration of the company’s centennial year of operation.? Through the program, McWane will award up to 60 two-year, $1,000 scholarships for the annual academic year. The program complements McWane’s existing scholarship program, which designates four-year scholarships to dependent children of current team members, and brings the total number of scholarships to 100, one for each year the company has been in business. In 2022, McWane awarded 21 scholarships to students.
“McWane has a history of investing in education in the communities where we operate, and in celebration of our centennial year of operation, we are excited to expand our current scholarship program to focus on skilled trade education,” stated Kevin McCarthy, VP, Human Resources, McWane. “Trade and technical education are vital to forging a path toward successful, lifelong careers, and this program reaffirms our commitment to filling the skilled labor pipeline by providing financial assistance to aspiring workers.” For more information and to begin the application process, visit https://www.mcwane.com/responsibility/community/. Applications will reopen in October.
At McWane Ductile, we employ hundreds of employees in various skilled trades throughout our foundries and in the field. Check out our Careers Page to learn more about our opportunities at https://www.mcwaneductile.com/about/careers/.
Need Assistance with Your Waterworks Project?
If you have any questions regarding your water or wastewater infrastructure project, be sure to reach out to your local McWane Ductile representative. We have team members who've managed small and large water utility systems, served in engineering consulting firms, and bring decades of experience in solving field issues involving pipeline construction and operation. From design to submittal, to installation, we strive to provide education and assistance to water professionals throughout the water and wastewater industry.