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The Hydronics Institute (HI), Division of the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA), is currently in this predicament.
For 25 years the institute ran a traveling seminar to train new employees on the basics of hydronics and boilers, and to provide continuing education for more experienced contractors. The training ended with the retirement of the institute’s primary instructor and has been absent for the last few years. With the merger between GAMA and HI, the organization has been trying to revive the classes.
According to Reuben Autery, GAMA president, the education committee began to actively search for an instructor last year. So far, the institute has run advertisements in The New York Times and a few trade magazines. The organization has also twice set a deadline for finding an instructor, but it has still come up empty handed.
This isn’t to say that the Hydronics Institute has not received any offers, but according to Autery, “I don’t have a stack of rÃ©sumÃ©s.” In fact, the majority of applicants heard about the job through word of mouth.
What is the problem?The instructor would travel to 20 cities across the country each year and would offer two or three different courses in each city. So why is HI having such a difficult time?
Autery makes the final decision on who gets the job, but Joe Coppola, chairman of the Education Committee, has been looking for an instructor and making recommendations to Autery. Coppola has a few theories as to why the hunt has been so difficult.
The institute would like an instructor who fulfills two qualifications. “We are looking for someone with good hands-on experience with residential heating equipment,” Coppola said. On top of that, the institute would like someone who is college educated with teaching and presentation skills.
Autery says that finding someone with both these qualifications is not difficult, the trouble is that they have already been taken by the industry.
“I know the names of 30 qualified instructors, but they work for my members,” Autery said. “The pool of instructor talent is not degraded or limited. The talent is there. The problem is the total number of bodies.”
Coppola agrees, saying that anyone that is qualified for the position is already employed and possibly in business for himself.
“We are an association of industry manufacturers. Many candidates come from the industry and we don’t want to steal them from there,” Coppola said.
One solution to this problem, according to Autery and Coppola, is to find an individual who is competent in teaching and also ready to retire from the industry. Coppola says that a great candidate could be someone who is ready to slow down and leave behind the physical aspect of the business. This would ensure an individual who has had previous hands-on experience and the time to travel.
This brings up the next issue. HI is finding that many candidates are unwilling to travel or to relocate closer to the GAMA headquarters in Virginia.
Autery says that with the lack of instructors, almost every organization is looking for someone. This in turn has made the search more aggressive. Instructors can hold out for more money and, more importantly, individuals can find a teaching job without moving or having to travel.
In the meantimeHI does have some options. According to Coppola, the organization has one qualified part-time instructor. The next step would be to find one or two more.
The institute can also hold out because the curriculum and design for the upcoming classes has not been finished. For the last year, HI has been working on a 300-page introductory textbook to hydronic heating to be used in its courses. The final chapter of the text has recently been completed and now has to be reviewed by industry experts and the education committee.
Finally, Autery says that GAMA could possibly borrow an instructor from a member organization if a qualified candidate cannot be found.