ARLINGTON, VA — In a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA’s) Vice President for Public Policy, John Herzog, testified on the challenges the industry faces in developing meaningful apprenticeship programs. With a rapidly declining skilled workforce, the industry has to re-evaluate its approach to apprenticeship programs, providing more room for flexibility and creativity.

“This is not a union versus non-union issue, but simply one of putting enough qualified people on the street to meet the needs of our communities. Unlike some other industries facing labor shortages, hvacr installation and maintenance cannot go offshore. We are part of America’s infrastructure,” said Herzog.

Herzog described a system bogged down by paperwork restrictions that have prevented improvements the industry’s apprenticeship training and placement. Several states around the country are facing similar issues, facing a potential hvacr labor shortage of up to 104,000 by the year 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ACCA supports the Apprenticeship Enhancement Act, which would help cut down on some of the paperwork burdens currently required by the DOL’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Training. Herzog also urged the committee to support the Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act (SWEA), which would provide tax credits to small businesses undertaking apprenticeship training. “Other creative initiatives such as SWEA are needed if we’re going to meet the challenges of a declining workforce,” he said.