February 26, 2016
By Renée Cardarelle
The HVAC industry is facing a severe workforce shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the HVAC industry will face a 21% increase in jobs by 2022, coupled with the fact that there are not enough HVAC technicians to fill job needs today, this is a serious concern. Even more important, only 6% of high school students are considering a career that is trades related (RIDGID Survey 2009). This means that there are not enough new individuals coming into the industry.
One thing employers of HVAC technicians can do to make sure they are not caught in this shortage trap is to build their own technician workforce. This causes concern for many employers who worry about the time and effort it takes to train a new employee who may or may not work out. However, competition is the labor market is going to make finding and building your own technicians a must for most companies and organizations. To learn get more information on what it takes to on-board and train an inexperienced technician, visit www.ExploreTheTrades.org/resources.
It is important for businesses/governments to work to attract more women and minorities to the workforce.
Women are 50% of the population, yet occupy less than 1% of the HVACR industry! With the looming shortage of qualified technicians, it is important to look at women as an excellent potential workforce. Similarly, individuals from many different ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented in the trades and should be considered for and encouraged to enter into technical positions. This is especially important if the consumer base being served is ethnically diverse. When technicians interact with consumers, especially in a home environment, women are often the point of contact. Having a women HVAC technician or a technician from a similar ethnic background can increase comfort and communication levels.
Here some ways that businesses/governments can attract more women and minorities to becoming HVAC techs
Attracting women and individuals from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds is no small task. The trades are stigmatized as “dirty” work that is manually intensive and “too much” for a women to do. Too few young people are encouraged to think about a career in the trades, and when they are directed to them it is often a last option after other careers deemed more professional and lucrative are considered and rejected. Changing the stigmatized image of a career in the trades is an uphill battle and will take a united effort. The fact is trade careers are often lucrative and professional. Individuals working in the HVAC industry have average salaries in the mid- to high- forties and salaries can range up into six figures when a technician is highly qualified. In addition, the work environment, while it is more physical and can sometimes be downright unpleasant, happens more often in professional environments and requires high-level communication and problem solving skills. In addition, the increasing complexity of the equipment technicians are working on and the focus on proper installation and maintenance of equipment in order to ensure energy efficiency, requires higher levels of science and engineering training. Businesses and organizations that want to attract more individuals into HVAC technical positions need to consider how these positions are advertised and how interviews and on-boarding take place. Forming collaborations with schools and other agencies to encourage young people who are not currently experienced in the trades to learn about them and to highlight the excellent opportunities of these careers is another good option. Especially important when looking to attract women or individuals from ethnic backgrounds not normally in the trades is to make sure all outreach efforts include images and information that welcome them into these careers. Business and organizations interested in learning more about how to highlight the benefits of the trades and attract more individuals to them can visit www.ExploreTheTrades.org/resources.