7 PHTA Initiatives Aimed at Helping Pool & Spa Pros 7 PHTA Initiatives Aimed at Helping Pool & Spa Pros
Sabeena Hickman, PHTA president & CEO, reviews the major initiatives the Alliance is undertaking on behalf of pool and spa pros, including efforts to fight the labor shortage and virtual education opportunities.
August 9, 2022
Tell us a little about how Pool & Hot Tub Alliance has been involved in government advocacy for its members and the three principles the industry should strive for.
Hickman: The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance is built on three core principles: educate, advocate and elevate. Advocacy plays a tremendous role in what the organization does from a federal standpoint. PHTA has worked tirelessly on federal initiatives including the J1 Visa program, where we’re advocating for our pool management companies to get lifeguards every summer.
The drought in California is going to be a big focus for us. Our board just dedicated $200,000 to create the Let's Pool Together campaign so we can equip our members out there with talking points and resources so people can understand that pools are not water wasters.
COVID-19 took up a lot of our time. We worked with all states to be relevant and keep our business open. We’ve got lobbyists in California, Texas, Massachusetts and New York, so from a state, local and federal level we’ve got boots on the ground.
A lot of it, too, is water safety.
Can you tell us what your apprenticeship program is and how it’s serving the future of pool professionals?
Hickman: In August, we launched the first-ever U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship program for pool and service professionals, creating a workforce in that segment of our industry. A certain number of educational hours are required, and we want to make it very easy for folks. We offer on-the-job training as well, where we lay out a road map for all of our members to train their next workforce, and there are promotions and things built into the program. The program takes about two years to complete and it's kind of “earn as you learn.” You bring them in and there's a ton of money out there from the Department of Labor and state agencies to help our members. The apprenticeship program is free to PHTA members. I asked the team what success would look like in one year and they said having 5 companies signed up. Well, we have 13 signed up, so we’re excited. Next year we’re going to focus on a program for pool builders.
What other initiatives is PHTA focused on right now?
Hickman: Education is a big focus for us. We’ve got a very established genesis program for builders where they do construction, design and engineering. That program was very hands-on, face-to-face, and since we’ve pivoted to virtual learning during COVID, we’ve seen record numbers in the program. We’ll train over 500 professionals this year, so we’re building on that. We’ve added four new courses and have more than 50 courses on our website in total. Most of our education is tied to certification, so people need to get continuing education credits to stay certified.
We also held a CEO forum with a professor from Cornell University, and next year we’ll launch a leadership program with the university for the industry.
Additionally, Rowdy Gaines, who is a three-time Olympic gold-medalist in swimming, joined PHTA to work on Step Into Swim, which is focused on creating more swimmers and preventing drownings. We’re looking to the industry to support that initiative and become stewards of water safety.