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March 28, 2014

While the conference included numerous training sessions and presentations to help instructors hone their skills, it also provided an opportunity for attendees to bounce ideas off one another as they tried to solve the most pressing issue currently facing HVACR educators in the U.S. — how to attract new talent to the industry.

Strength in Numbers

In addition to training sessions on topics ranging from troubleshooting compressors to using PowerPoint in the classroom, the hvacr conferenceevent also included panel discussions and keynote presentations from industry leaders. After featured speaker Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education at the U.S. Department of Education, was unable to attend the event due to inclement weather, Jennifer Worth, director of the American Association of Community Colleges Center for Workforce & Economic Development, graciously stepped in at the last minute to discuss her organization’s role in supporting and advocating for the industry’s educational programs.

“There are lots of different words for what we are,” Worth said, referring to the nearly 1,200 community, state, vocational, and technical colleges in the U.S. that currently boast a combined 13 million students. “There is strength in our numbers.”

Worth offered support and resources to attendees and urged them to seek out funding from a variety of sources.

“There are billions of dollars out there that would be appropriate for you to go after,” she said, adding that both the Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor currently have grants and scholarships up for grabs. will tell you what the available opportunities are,” Worth added.

Warren Lupson, director of education at AHRI, agreed with Worth that HVAC educators need to take advantage of industry partnerships.

“If you’re not using us, you’re making a big mistake,” he told conference attendees. “Take this information back to your community college and give it to the program director or vice president. We need to start standing up for ourselves.”

“If you don’t talk about industry partners, it’s a loss,” Worth agreed. “If I can help bring money to your community, I’m really happy to do that.”

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