Good to know that the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC), along with the PHCC National Educational Foundation, is looking into the worker shortage, specifically in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

The group is putting on a Workforce Development Summit in New Orleans on Jan. 23, 2008. The purpose is to focus attention on the critical shortage of skilled workers for the plumbing and HVACR industry in that state. The goal is to develop a plan of action to train the workers that are needed to build and maintain the infrastructure needed in Louisiana and regions within the state.

It’s a tough task, especially post-Hurricane Katrina.

The effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans was catastrophic and long-lasting. The disaster had major implications for a large segment of the population, economy, and politics of the entire United States. It has prompted a Congressional review of the Army Corps of Engineers and the failure of the federally built flood protection system which experts agree should have protected the city's inhabitants from Katrina’s surge.

Repopulating the city, as well as the state, has been steady, but gradual. Though reports differ, it appears’s the city’s population will only be a little more than half of what it was before the storm hit. (Then again, one report stated the city’s population was estimated at about two-thirds – or close to 300,000 residents – of that before the disaster.)

Bottom line: New Orleans and the state of Louisiana continnues to be hit hard from Katrina, which is why PHCC wants to address the problem. While many have abandoned the state, it still needs help in getting back on its feet – and it needs the workers to help rebuild it.

I was invited to attend the summit, but I will be occupied in New York City that day, reporting on the new equipment being introduced at the 2008 Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition, to be held at the Javitz Center. I did request to get meeting notes and asked the organizers to keep me informed of future developments.

Those invited to the upcoming gathering include state and local elected officials, educators, members of the national trade press, and leading plumbing and HVACR business owners. What the outcome will be is anyone’s guess.

If you have any suggestions, I am sure PHCC and PHCC Educational Foundation would love to hear from you. I’d like to hear from you. Post your suggestions right here.