"This is going to be quite a program," said Executive Vice President Robb Isaacs at the association's annual international conference here. The four-year program encompasses a range of HVACR training; a fifth year, if needed by a technician, comprises heat pump training. Isaacs encouraged members to tell local licensing agencies about the apprentice program "and see if this RSES program can be used."
One additional aspect is the fundamentals training that can be used either freestanding or as the first year of the apprentice program. "We need courses at slightly more beginning levels," Isaacs said.
He also reported on a CD-ROM containing both the trainer and trainee materials that can be used in preparation for taking North American Technician Excellence (NATE) tests. Isaacs said the materials can be used by RSES chapters (of which there are more than 400, including several dozen in Canada) to offer the training for several hours a night over two or three days; or as a half-day program followed by the NATE exam itself.
"We have contractors demanding that their people be certified by NATE. You can do these [training] programs," he told representatives of chapters.
He said training has moved from blackboards and lectures to multicolor creations on white boards and laptop computers with PowerPoint presentations. Also figuring into the equation, he said, is virtual instruction in areas such as soldering and brazing before actually doing the work with hands-on tools.
Today's techs are coming to expect more on-the-job training as well as ongoing classes at night that do not take away from their day jobs, he said, adding that this would go against a common practice in Canada that temporarily releases a technician from a contracting company in order to take eight weeks of classroom/lab training, often at distant cities.
Carr noted that the changing technology of cell phones is having both positive and negative effects. One the plus side, he said, picture cell phones can be used by technicians on the jobsite to transmit images of equipment back to the shop should additional assistance be needed.
On the negative side, cell phones with text messaging need to be banned from classrooms during test time to prevent the test taker from seeking outside help.
Gartland and Vogl also noted differences between the United States and Canada in how refrigerants are regulated. They noted that U.S. regulations are centered in the federal government. Canada has a more decentralized approach, with each province having a say to the point where there are some differences among the provinces.
In addition, the United States continues to allow use of CFCs with strict recovery and venting regulations, whereas Canadian law does not allow CFCs to be reintroduced to a system if they have to be removed. In fact, Canadian law requires such refrigerants to be destroyed. Furthermore, the Canadian government has signed the Kyoto Protocol involving various environmental issues including global warming; the U.S. government has not.
While the group's leadership continued to encourage members to seek out nonmembers to join the society, there was also a push at the conference to sell training programs for both members and the industry in general as a means to generate income.
Conference delegates elected St. Louis-based Robert Smith, manager of HVACR for Schnuck Markets and an RSES regional director, as international president. The election was a deviation from the customary approach of presidents-to-be going through four executive committee chairs, approved each year by a usually routine vote of delegates.
The change this year was caused by the death in June of vice president Kenneth Bachner of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and a request by next-in-line Ron McCarthy of St. John, Newfoundland, that he not move up two spots. McCarthy, who had been serving as acting vice president as well as elected treasurer, was formally elected to the vice presidential post, putting him in line for the presidency at the society's next annual meeting, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2005, in Atlanta.
Member-of-the-Year honors went to Ed Shriver of Toledo, Ohio. Speaker of the Year was Wes Taylor of Carlyle Compressors. Dennis Bush of A.O. Smith was honored with the Herman Goldberg Award for "outstanding achievements in advancing the HVACR profession."
Publication date: 11/01/2004