ARLINGTON, Va. - Thirty percent of American high school incoming freshmen students drop out of the nation's educational system and do not earn their diploma, yet most public policy initiatives focus on college and post-graduate education as symbols of success. While thousands of Americans are lost in the system, the nation's professional trades face an ever-spiraling shortage of skilled workers, notes the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

The need to address these two problems brought the leaders of the nation's leading associations in the HVACR industry together with the country's leading business federation and top government officials in a high-level summit meeting in Washington, D.C.

The HVACR Industry Alliance met with senior officials of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for a Competitive Workforce, as well as representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education in a "first step" summit toward evaluating possible solutions to the need for expanded skills training nationwide.

The meeting was chaired by Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO of ACCA. "The unyielding focus in our society at all levels has been to glorify the benefits of college while ignoring the fact that some of the most attractive career options today are in professional skilled trades such as HVACR," Stalknecht said. "We need to find new ways to reach the students who are falling out of the current system if we are to maintain our nation's way of life. Skilled trade jobs not only pay well and provide lifelong employment, but they are positions that cannot be outsourced to foreign soil."

At this initial summit, the U.S. Chamber pledged its full cooperation in focusing on the need for expanded skills training. Yet to be determined by the group is whether a solution strategy will focus on legislative goals, policy or regulatory initiatives, or other state by state strategies. The group will continue meeting and convene an expanded summit in the future.

The HVACR Industry Alliance, chaired by Don Frendberg, executive vice president and COO, Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), is comprised of the chief executives of the following organizations:


• Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI)

• Air Movement & Control Association (AMCA)

• American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

• Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA)


• Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI)

• Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA)

• International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR)

• National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)

• National Air Filtration Association (NAFA)

• North American Technician Excellence (NATE)

• Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC)

• Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Publication date:04/23/2007