Instructors: The Industry Is Here To Help
The sixth annual event, held here on March 14-15, brought over 150 educators together from across the country. The yearly workshop offers a number of seminars designed to aid instructors in strengthening their hvacr programs. It also provides the opportunity for educators to network and discuss common problems that plague industry training and development.
This year, a wide variety of industry representatives were on hand to provide information to instructors. They included manufacturer representatives, wholesalers, contractors, and more. Although several different topics were presented over the two days, one message rang clear from each speaker. If you need help in bolstering your hvacr program, local and national industry is willing to step up to the plate.
MANUFACTURER INSIGHTThe first day of the instructor workshop began with introductions from ARI president Woody Sutton and director of education Leslie Sandler. Sandler discussed several issues with the instructors including the Industry Competency Exam (ICE), Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), EPA Technician Certification, and more.
Sandler and Sutton outlined what the instructors could expect to learn over the two days, noting that the instructors in attendance were already ahead of the game by taking the time to participate and gain further insight into how they can improve their programs.
Gary Schroeder, training manager for Lennox Industries, spoke on the first day about what technicians need to know on the job from a manufacturer’s perspective.
“Manufacturers are going to have the biggest effect on what you teach in the future,” Schroeder told the instructors.
He explained that manufacturers are always developing new and more efficient products, which will take further education and training and will change the way technicians do their job. For example, Schroeder pointed out that laptop computers have revolutionized the way technicians perform a service call.
“You’ll need to teach [the students] not to be afraid of using the computer,” Schroeder said. He explained that many technicians can be found working not just with traditional tools, but also with computers to diagnose problems or to make calls back to the company.
Besides teaching new technology, Schroeder encouraged the instructors to give their students more guidance on business matters.
“Business management is just as critical as technical management,” he said.
Schroeder explained that many individuals enter the trade not knowing the level of business aptitude that is needed. He said that you do not want technicians feeling as though they are salesmen, but instructors need to explain how pricing works.
Finally, Schroeder said that manufacturers want technicians to have a clear understanding of their products. When a problem occurs in a system, he says that customers and technicians have a tendency to blame the product and not the installation. Often, the problem is in reality simple human error.
To sum up, Schroeder said that all manufacturers need to work together with instructors to make sure that they are familiar with installing the manufacturers’ systems.
“You are training the people who will install our equipment,” concluded Schroeder.
Following Schroeder was Rob Dohse, a senior service trainer in the customer technical training department for Carrier Corp.
Dohse introduced Carrier’s Vocational Teacher’s Institute. The institute has been offering advanced troubleshooting courses specifically for instructors for the past 30 years. Each summer the institute gets an upgrade and includes new information.
Dohse says that the institute’s next session will cover a variety of topics, including the possibility of a brazing demonstration from TurboTorch and a refrigeration seminar with DuPont. The institute will also focus on residential applications, how to get new hires, and load calculations.
The first day of the workshop also brought presentations from Tom Holdsworth, director of communications and public relations for SkillsUSA/Vocational Indus-trial Clubs of America (VICA), Andy Schoen and Doug Gildehaus of Sporlan Valve, and Ed Francis and Larry Jeffus for Prentice-Hall.
CONTRACTOR AND WHOLESALER INSIGHTThe second day of the instructor workshop brought presentations on how local industry and instructors can work together.
One such presentation was from George Arrants, business and education partnership manager for Snap-On, Inc. Arrants has previous experience as an automotive instructor and has seen the necessity of local support within the school system, especially for vocational and trade education.
Currently, Arrants is responsible for helping to create such partnerships and he shared with the attendees how their programs can thrive with help from the community.
Arrants explained that business and education have been islands unto themselves, but success depends on these relationships. One of these relationships is an active advisory board.
It is the job of the advisory board to keep hvacr programs alive as well as to make them as beneficial as possible. “It’s not what you want to teach,” said Arrants. “It’s what they need.”
Arrants explains that local contractors must tell the instructor what kind of skills they need from their future technicians. If those skills are not being taught, they must be put into place.
Contractors can then provide a service back to the instructors.
If a program is struggling with funding or facing the possibility of closure, the advisory board can speak for the program and attest that it has provided them with a valuable resource.
A presentation followed from a panel of contractors and wholesalers. The panel included Warren Lupson, education and training committee member for the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), David Boggs, NHRAW member and branch manager of Lyon-Conklin and Company, Charlie Ayers, vice president of service for Shapiro & Duncan, and Rick Lane, former instructor and technical training coordinator for Blue Dot.
Each of them described how industry and instructors can work together. They also encouraged the instructors to use PAHRA, ICE, and NATE for their programs.
Boggs reminded the instructors that they should present their students with the option of working for a wholesaler. He said it is an ideal option for students who have the technical ability, but do not want to work in the elements or deal with physical labor. Other members of the panel described how difficult it is to find technicians that have adequate training.
“Most of the people we’re finding we have to train ourselves,” said Ayers about new technicians.
He also said that it is very important for technicians to at least have knowledge of basic hvacr techniques. Ayers says that all troubleshooting goes back to the fundamental principles.
The instructors then had a chance to speak with the panel about problems they have with industry. One of the main topics was technician pay. Instructors illustrated how their students work hard in their course work, only to end up starting at a job that does not pay well.
Lane said that he sympathizes with that situation.
“I’m a contractor living in an instructor world,” he said. “We need to educate the contractors as well as the students.”
The individuals on the panel told the attendees to create awareness in their local industry of the value of their students and the work they put into becoming a technician.
For more information on ARI’s instructor workshop, go to www.ari.org (website).
Sidebar: ARI Welcomes Special GuestsARLINGTON, VA — The sixth annual Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute’s (ARI’s) Instructor Workshop brought together over 150 hvacr educators this year. Among these attendees were some unique instructors that made their first appearance at the workshop.
Several hvacr instructors and administrators representing the training facilities for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard were present, including representatives from the Army/Marine hvacr training facility at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, MD.
According to Leslie Sandler, director of education for ARI, officials from the Aberdeen training facility were in attendance to not only learn some new training skills, but to learn more about the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), the Industry Competency Exam (ICE), and North American Technician Excellence (NATE).
Sandler explained that the Aberdeen training facility is eager to align its program with the industry standards. “The resources of PAHRA, ICE, and NATE will help Aberdeen accomplish this.”
She also stated that the military wants to make sure that its technicians have an easy transition into the hvacr industry when they finish their military duty. This will be accomplished by meeting these industry-validated standards, which can prove favorable with future employers. Sandler says that technicians leaving the military already look favorable because they have the much-needed soft skills that contractors look for. ARI believes that these soft skills along with PAHRA, ICE, and NATE is a winning combination.
— James J. Siegel
Publication date: 04/08/2002