HVAC Industry Seeks Warmer Reception
The HVAC industry will launch a major public awareness campaign to persuade post-millennials and their parents, high school counselors and educators that HVAC installation, maintenance and repair is a viable, long-term career choice.
The campaign is among three action items to come out of a study commissioned by EGIA Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Electric & Gas Industries Association focused on how to overcome the chilly reception HVAC and other building trades are getting in the job market. The California-based trade association created the foundation to promote HVAC as a first-choice career option.
“It is undeniable that the HVAC industry is experiencing a considerable deficit of interested and suitable workers,” the EGIA Foundation stated. “By their own admission, 64 percent of high school students believe that HVAC is not a career that would make a parent proud. Unfortunately, often unjustly so, these careers are viewed as substandard or undervalued career choices.”
In 2017, the median wage for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $22.64 an hour — $47,080 a year — according to the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
By some estimates, 115,000 heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) workers will be needed by 2022, while HVACR training and education programs graduate only a small fraction of that number each year, according to the foundation. The BLS projects the number of such jobs to grow 15 percent annually from 2016 to 2026. That’s more than twice the average growth rate for all occupations. By 2020, meanwhile, BLS data indicate one in four HVACR workers will reach retirement age.
“For too long, the image of a contractor has been a terrible cliché,” reads the foundation’s study. “HVAC contractors are professionals in a highly technical field who work to preserve livelihoods, structures and the environment. Those involved in the industry should take advantage of every opportunity to highlight who they are, what they do and how they do it.”
The study concludes that closing the skills gap will require appealing to post-millennials, or those born after 1997. To do that, the foundation will:
- Act as a clearing house to facilitate connections needed for all interested stakeholders to share information, combine efforts and ultimately create greater awareness of the HVAC industry and lessen the employment gap.
- Launch a public awareness campaign featuring educational videos that will focus on driving improved awareness of the job types, availability and opportunities for success in the HVAC industry. HVAC must be positioned as something far beyond skilled labor. Rather, the focus will be on the importance of HVAC in every facet of life, the advancement of technology, as well as its role in creating healthy, sustainable, durable environments.
- Raise money for scholarships. Because it does not have the resources to award every interested student a $2,500 scholarship, the foundation will partner with like-minded organizations to raise scholarship money for post-millennials to study the trade at accredited institutions.
Download a full copy of “Bridging the HVAC Employment Gap”