The skilled labor shortage has taken over headlines in the past few years and with the continued (and ever-growing) demand for technicians, the HVAC industry is facing a crisis. For his first mission, we challenged instructor Chris Walters to give us his perspective on the state of the HVAC industry and how it’s impacting the realm of HVAC education.
How has the skilled labor shortage impacted you as an HVAC educator?
As an HVAC educator, I have to develop programs and training methods that work and can get the need to know items taught quickly. Understanding the shortage means creating a hands-on course with enough “hands on training” to allow the graduates to be productive and truck-ready soon after employment.
How has this shortage impacted your school/HVAC program?
I started my A/C training school because of the technician shortage. After 20 years of owning my own A/C company, I decided to work on a solution to my shortage needs. The program was so successful in solving my needs that I now focus only on training and helping other contractors solve theirs.
What scares, worries, or concerns you about the shortage of HVAC workers?
My biggest concern about the shortage of A/C workers is how we fix the problem. This is not a time to fill seats based on opportunity. My fear is that training companies will pop up everywhere and try to capitalize on their need instead of quality training offerings.
What challenges do you face as an educator in building and maintaining your HVAC program?
The biggest challenge that I face in my HVAC program is getting the word out to the younger generation. My average student is almost 40 years old, so the younger generation is not yet aware of the potential.
What opportunities exist for schools, businesses, and other organizations to help combat the skilled labor shortage and reduce the stigma against careers in the trades?
There are numerous opportunities available to combat the shortage. High schools can play a big part by introducing the program to the students and inviting trade schools to career days. Businesses can send people they already have on staff to training and invest in these people.
The issue of the stigma is a complicated contractor-caused problem based on many things. Just one of these stigmas is that 90% of the installations are not properly done. Most of the poor workmanship starts at the install. When installers are low paid and not trained, they are not putting in the quality that was sold. Treat and train installers as well as technicians and this one stigma will end.