Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certainly started 2008 on the right foot.
At this year’s Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) in New York, NATE, along with the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA); Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA), signed an agreement designed to give students advanced status in the UA when they graduate from schools accredited by PAHRA and that use the Industry Competency Exam (ICE). More importantly for NATE, a tech is given a boost if the tech achieved certification by NATE in one heating service specialty, one cooling service specialty and light commercial refrigeration service specialty, requiring at least the NATE core service test, or the NATE service specialty in heating, cooling, and light refrigeration.
“The United Association has more than 300,000 members and is a real leader in providing training to the plumbing and pipefitting industry. Their commitment to building and maintaining a skilled workforce is commendable and aligns well with NATE’s mission of recognizing quality technicians through voluntary testing and certification,” said Rex Boynton, president of NATE.
“The UA’s ability to reach hundreds of thousands of industry professionals through their apprenticeship programs, continuing education opportunities, and mobile training facilities, gives NATE access to a vast pool of potential certification candidates.”
According to Boynton, consumers are looking for well-trained and certified technicians, and this agreement only helps the situation. “Our research shows that 84 percent of consumers who have used a NATE-certified technician would select the same contractor again and 67 percent are ‘extremely satisfied’ with their heating and cooling system,” said Boynton. “This is a real win-win-win situation for all parties.”
ALL POINTS TO GOODIn addition to the NATE element, the particulars of the agreement provide for advanced placement in a local union’s HVACR apprenticeship program for applicants who have completed a full-time program accredited by PAHRA and passed a series of certificate/certification exams within one year of application.
Another stipulation is that an applicant achieve a “C” average or better and an industry-validated passing grade ICE exam for residential heating and air conditioning, commercial heating and air conditioning, or commercial refrigeration.
“We are delighted to finally be able to partner with labor unions on technician training and certification,” said Stephen Yurek, president of AHRI. “We are happy the rigorous, industry-supported education, training, and certification programs are now being recognized by labor as the key tools that they are for increasing the number of skilled HVACR installers and technicians.”
Patrick Murphy, president of PAHRA, was most pleased with the joint agreement.
“This agreement shows the cooperative spirit of the parties to help raise the bar of the technician population,” he said. “The PAHRA accreditation is a standard established by HVACR educators and the industry to assure the training programs have the resources necessary to produce the contractors’ most important asset: the technician. Along with the AHRI-ICE certificate, the NATE and UA STAR certifications, we are providing a professional career path for the technicians to follow and the contractors to draw upon.”
For UA, it was another successful outreach to blend in and be accepted by the HVACR industry. “Training and supplying highly skilled HVACR service technicians to our employer partners, and expanding our recruitment programs, are high priorities for the United Association,” said Michael Arndt, director of training for UA.
“Our new relationship with NATE, ARI, and PAHRA will not only help us reach our mutual goals, but will advance the entire HVACR industry as well. We, in the United Association, look forward to working with our new partners in this endeavor for many years.”
Donald House, director of the UA’s HVACR service department, said the addition of the PAHRA-accredited HVACR educational programs to UA’s 5 STAR Careers program “will significantly expand our HVACR service technician recruitment efforts nationwide.”
As it stand currently, techs that enter the UA’s 5 STAR apprenticeship training program receive extensive learning and working experience provided at local UA training centers. It is a blend of on-the-job training and classroom training. Typically, this means 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 216 hours of classroom instruction each year of the five-year program. Student techs can earn a paycheck while going to school at no cost.