Utah’s constructing drawback: New guidelines have an effect on electricians and plumbers

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s construction industry is booming – so much it can be difficult to find contractors at times. For the past few months, KSL investigators have been looking into Utah’s construction problem. Now a new law will also affect licensed electricians and plumbers.

Some lawmakers say there is a shortage of plumbers and electricians in Utah. However, recent legislative changes could soon make it easier to become one.

Nicholas Kay is a plumber and he said he was proud of his job. He says it took him four years of schooling and rigorous tests to get his journeyman’s license.

“Plumbing and electrics, there’s a reason we have licenses and it’s to protect the public,” said Kay.

However, recent changes to Utah law are making it a lot easier to become a plumber or an electrician. The change gives people “expedited license requirements”.

While the new law can be confusing, Kay means you no longer have to go to school for four years and the test just got a lot easier.

“It brings inexperienced journeyman into the fields and possibly into Utah homes and can ultimately damage our wages and ultimately endanger the public,” he said.

The Department of Commerce and Representative Mike Shultz, the legislature responsible for the change, declined to speak to us.

However, the KSL investigators sat down with Shultz in November.

“I think the whole trade exam was a way to keep people out of the industry and make it difficult because it was a tough test,” Shultz said.

He said the reason for his bill was that Utah didn’t have enough workforce and easing the requirements for a license was a good thing for the market.

There’s a reason we have licenses and to protect the public.

–Nicholas Kay, plumber

But Kay disagrees and says it’s a security issue.

“When you have people who can test, who pass the test, but have no hands-on work experience and burn down a house, those contractors pay the price, so do the customer,” said Kay.

He says there are 8,000 plumbers and electricians in the valley right now, and the change in the law makes their licenses unusable.

“I think it’s time we got to stand up for ourselves or no one else will,” said Kay. “You changed it one way, I hope we can change it again.”

The change in law could have gone into effect today, but the Department of Commerce is finalizing its review.

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