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Skaer Tactics: With Pressing Need for Techs, Let's Get This Show on the Air

June 23, 2008
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Mark Skaer

OK, maybe we are getting somewhere. Since last I wrote, more than a few contractors have written or called to back up my idea in regard to getting a weekly HVACR-related program on television. In my opinion, this is a strong way to connect the young to this industry. And, we do have to connect with the young. Otherwise, this industry is going to be in big trouble.

“The whole idea sounds great!” e-mailed David Fiore from B&B Air Conditioning and Heating Service Co., headquartered in Rockville, Md. “I have been thinking the same thing for years. There is a market for this type of programming. If I can help in any way, please let me know. I have over 15 years experience in the HVAC field.”

Another reader, David Richardson, offered to toss around some ideas. “I have quite a few ideas for a reality-based show that I think you might be interested in. The idea revolves around how we could show the highly technical side of HVAC, as well as consumer benefits that occur from having the system designed, installed, and tested out correctly,” he wrote.

All I can say is keep the e-mails, letters, phone calls, and ideas coming. The more involvement, the greater chance of this becoming reality.

REALITY BITES

After all, reality – as it stands right now – is not necessarily smiling on this industry. The lack of skilled HVACR service technicians is already real and here, if you ask Richard Holden, regional director for the United States Department of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the HVAC Excellence National HVACR Educators and Trainers Conference in Las Vegas earlier this year, Holden revealed data that shows roughly 40 percent of the industry is eligible to retire in the next decade. During this same time period, the HVACR service industry is set to grow by 18 to 26 percent. If these numbers hold true, we will need to recruit and train 66 percent of our current industry workforce in the next decade.

For those who still have their heads in the sand, the Department of Labor says that 60,000 jobs will go unfilled in this industry this year. Those positions include all jobs ranging from entry-level to top-paying positions. Additionally, the Department of Labor forecasts that the shortage will increase by another 20 percent by 2014.

Estimates show that roughly 70 million Baby Boomers will retire in the next decade. There are only 40 million workers entering the workforce to replace them. Where will the technicians come from? Heck, if we don’t already have the attention of the young, isn’t this just a disaster waiting to happen?

This is sad, considering the Department of Labor categorizes employment into 22 occupational groups. The HVACR industry is part of a career cluster that is in the top 10 for employment, and will be in the top 10 fastest-growing industry sectors through 2016. The top occupational sectors accounted for 32 percent of our nation’s employment in 2006 and are projected to account for 56 percent of our employment change by 2016.

Some of the factors that will affect employment in this industry include rising energy costs, policy initiatives, building stock, replacement demand, and regional differences. The biggest item from a consumer’s standpoint is energy. Energy efficiency will be a driving factor for change in the HVACR industry and drive a great deal of growth in the next decade.

It’s time to act.

MORE QUESTIONS

After discussing this proposed TV program with several contractors, I’ve come to the conclusion that the content of the show has to reach the middle school-aged and/or high school-aged kid. We have to get their attention while they are still exploring career choices and ideas. Of course, this makes putting together the show more complex.

This takes us back to that $64,000 Question: How do you get kids interested in this field? Is this possibly a Saturday morning cartoon show? If it is not aired on one of the four main networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox), would kids even see it? Should Bryantman, Dave Lennox, and the Maytag Repair Man combine to fight evil Humidity and Cold? In order to reach today’s high school-aged kids, wouldn’t this program have to land on MTV? Would industry manufacturers help sponsor such a show?

The industry has so many positives, but it is obvious we have not introduced those positives to the young folk. This TV program can, if it has the right content. Keep sending those ideas and suggestions. After all, if a show such as “A Shot at Love 2 With Tila Tequila” can make it to the boob tube …

Publication date: 06/23/2008
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