Uniting the Industry Around Education: Highlights of the 2014 HVAC Educators and Trainers Conference
Despite record unemployment numbers across America, employers in the HVACR industry are having trouble finding people with the right skills to fill open positions.
This problem will only get worse as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 65.6% of the people in the HVACR industry in the year 2020 will be people who were not in the industry in the year 2010. That is unless we can unite the industry around education.
In a continued effort to maintain education as the foundation of the HVACR Industry, HVAC Excellence held its 2014 National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference where more than 500 dedicated professionals attended educational and general sessions with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and placement of the next generation of HVACR technicians.
What are the solutions for recruiting more qualified people into the HVACR industry?
The answers lie within facts provided to us by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); however, reading BLS reports can be like looking for a simplified version of the IRS tax code! To help attendees understand the information pertinent to them, Keith Avery of Hampden Engineering (pictured) delivered a fun and thought-provoking presentation at the conference.
According to the BLS, 20% of all jobs require a Bachelor's degree or higher, which means 80% don't! The BLS also reports that 67% of all jobs require some kind of post-secondary technical training, like HVACR.
The Department of Labor reports that middle-skill jobs will represent 43% of the job market by 2014; this compares to 25% high-skill jobs (Bachelor's degree or greater) and 32% low-skill jobs. What's hidden in these reports is that the bulk of all new jobs are in the skilled crafts and trades, such as HVACR and electrical.
The national average of unemployed persons hovers around 7% while the BLS says that nationally the unemployment rate for the HVAC industry is statistically zero! Moreover, these HVACR jobs cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas.
We all know that the quality of any training or educational program is only as good as the instructor chosen to lead it. To enable HVACR instructors to verify the depth of their knowledge and ability to relate subject matter effectively, HVAC Excellence offered attendees the opportunity to take educator credentialing exams free of charge and educators rose to the challenge with well over 100 credentialing examinations administered! The HVAC Excellence credentialing exams validate if an HVACR instructor has mastered the subject matter to teach the technical competencies or if they need professional development in that area.
HVAC Excellence took time during the general sessions to acknowledge the individuals and organizations making a difference in our industry.
During the conference, 12 instructors were recognized for recently earning the title of Certified Master HVACR Educator, 17 schools were recognized for achieving programmatic accreditation, and one school was recognized for their outstanding efforts in carbon monoxide safety awareness.
Formation of National Policy Forum for Educators
In an extended effort to grow the involvement and participation of educators in the industry, Jerry Weiss, Chairman of the ESCO Group, announced the formation of a National HVACR Policy Forum to address skills gaps in current HVACR educational programs. Over the course of 2014, a number of committees will meet by phone/online meetings to discuss the skills gaps in HVACR. They'll make proposals to address these skills gaps, allowing educators, trainers, contractors, and manufacturers the opportunity to learn more about the national skills gaps and educate them on how to become a part of a national movement for the solution.
2015 Conference Announced
HVAC Excellence is heading to Florida for the 2015 Conference!
The 2015 conference will be held March 15-17 at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida.
Even if you have not participated or attended the HVAC Excellence conference in the past, all are welcome to attend. For more information on the conference, photographs, and shared conference materials, visit www.hvacexcellence.org.
Renee Tomlinson is the director of strategic partnerships for the ESCO Group.
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