HBI’s Pedro Bruno Helps ‘Build Plumbers’ as an Instructor
In 2013, Pedro Bruno was struggling to find direction in his life. He had no housing, no driver's license, no high school diploma and no marketable skills.
Then he found the Home Builders Institute (HBI), an educational organization that equips its students with the skills and experience they need for careers in the building industry. There he learned how to use power tools, read blueprints, weld and more — everything he needed to become a plumber.
After graduating from the HBI program, becoming a journeyman plumber and working in the industry for nearly 10 years, Bruno has now decided to help others find direction too by returning to the organization as an instructor.
Preparing the Workforce for Today’s Plumbing Industry
Though the plumbing trade is no stranger to the labor shortage, Bruno spotted another deficiency in his field: pros who are willing to teach. So when Jeremy Kennebeck, regional career development coordinator at HBI, called to ask him to join the organization as an instructor, Bruno stepped up.
At the HBI school in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida, he spends his days sharing his industry experience with the next generation of plumbers in his local community.
Students work in a studio designed to simulate a residential home, performing DWV tests and installing plumbing systems using SharkBite fittings and PEX, as well as HoldRite in-wall PEX supports. To mirror the job-site environment, Bruno even does a mock inspection as part of the training.
Why Career Technical Education Matters for the Future of Plumbing
Look at the skyline of any major city, and you’ll likely see cranes among the buildings, a sign of yet another structure soon to be added to the cluster. Beyond commercial builds, multifamily home construction is up over the previous year, and back in September 2022, the number of apartments under construction was at the highest level since the first quarter of 1974.
Coupled with the skilled trade shortage, this growth demands a larger, more equipped workforce. And that’s what Bruno hopes to produce by training new talent at HBI.
“Here, we build plumbers,” Bruno said.
Plus, he wants to help students set goals for their career and shed a light on the lucrative career that plumbing offers. The median annual pay for the profession in 2021 was about $60,000, and the projected growth of the industry will stem in part from new construction, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Plumbing also provides several growth opportunities: Journey-level plumbers can level up to become master plumbers, supervisors or project managers. Some even start their own plumbing businesses — or give back to the community by passing on their knowledge like Bruno is.
Though today his title may be instructor, Bruno knows one thing for sure.
“There’s never going to be a day that I’m not a plumber,” he said. “[HBI has] given me a skill set that is not only marketable, but can’t be taken away from me.”