LANSDOWNE, Va. - Even though the two scheduled keynote speakers were unable to make it, the 2008 HVACR & Plumbing Instructors Workshop was anything but a bust. Not by a long shot.
More than 320 attendees had the option of participating in numerous HVACR- and plumbing-specific technical sessions over a three-day period (March 5-7), with topics ranging from technology updates, new training tools, and green water heating to assessing student learning and connecting students with careers. In addition to opportunities for networking and the fun “I’ve Got an Idea” session, the workshop brought together 33 company and nine sponsor exhibitors with tabletop exhibits.
“This is probably the best event for instructors that I have ever attended,” said Craig Wilber, HVAC/Industrial Systems instructor at Craven Community College in New Bern, N.C. “My problems are addressed, and I get to network with fellow instructors and other industry groups that understand the issues I face on a daily basis.”
It was the 13th annual workshop, sponsored byThe NEWS; Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA); Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Educators (CARE); Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI); North American Technician Excellence (NATE); Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC) Education Foundation; Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES); and SkillsUSA.
FEDS SPEAKDr. Patricia Stanley, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), and John Ladd, administrator of the Office of Apprenticeship from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), were the original scheduled opening session speakers, but each had to send a replacement. Representing Ladd was Dana C. Daugherty from the Employment & Training Administration (ETA) in the DOL. Special Assistant Angie Garcia Falconetti stepped in for Dr. Stanley.
Daugherty discussed how the apprenticeship system directly addresses the workforce shortage in the HVACR and plumbing professions. The Office of Apprenticeship is responsible for developing materials and conducting a program of public awareness to secure the adoption of training in skilled occupations and related training policies and practices used by employers, unions, and other organizations.
“We also develop policies and plans to enhance opportunities for minority and female participation in skilled training,” he said. “We also coordinate the effective use of federal labor and resources to create a clear training-to-employment corridor for customers of the workplace development system.”
Daugherty also discussed future plans for the ETA that includes the use of technology in talent development and responding to the needs of the industry. It is attempting to amend the regulations in the National Apprenticeship Act, which was originally enacted in 1977.
“In the past 30 years, the American economy and workforce has changed significantly,” said Daugherty. “The proposed changes provide several changes to the National Apprenticeship System.”
Among other items, the ETA wants to incorporate technology-based learning, provide additional pathways to certification, introduce interim credentials, and improve program registration and review process.
Falconetti explained some of the goals of OVAE, which include accessibility and affordability to postsecondary and career education, as well as to provide workforce development and foster career pathways in high-growth industries, such as construction. The programs and grants managed by OVAE support a wide range of activities designed to help prepare young people and adults for further education. These investments total approximately $1.9 billion annually.
One of OVAE’s goals is to establish widespread support for community colleges “as centers of innovation and providers of superior education and training that are affordable and accessible to all Americans,” she said. To reach that objective, Falconetti said OVAE is launching an outreach campaign designed to publicize the benefits of a community college education, plus spotlight exemplary community college programs “that deliver quality academics, build strong community and business partnerships, and maximize affordable and accessible education options for adult learners,” she said.
CAREERCONNECT EXPLAINEDAfter the opening session, instructors had the opportunity to take in over 30 possible technical sessions offered on the first day. There were 14 more to choose from the morning of Day 2.
Shannon Lippold, operations program manager for Johnson Controls Building Efficiency group, held one session, zeroing in on the company’s CareerConnect program. It is designed to establish strategic partnership with selected technical colleges, community colleges, and universities that offer strong HVAC programs. Through CareerConnect, Lippold said the company is helping to raise community awareness around HVAC careers, enhancing student curriculum at partner colleges, encouraging faculty development and training, and gaining access to the top graduates that partner with Johnson Controls.
“Most people in the HVACR industry are aware of the pending shortage of skilled HVAC professionals due to the upcoming retirements of the Baby Boomer era,” said Lippold. “In 2004, Johnson Controls began to study how this trend would affect its service business. As a result, Johnson Controls determined that a program for postsecondary education institutions that provided highly regarded HVAC programs to local markets was a necessity.”
In a general overview, Lippold provided attendees what is required from schools in order to gain a partnership with Johnson Controls. Schools are evaluated for inclusion in CareerConnect based on school and program demographics, including diversity statistics, curriculum and the ability to modify it, geographic areas served, enrollments, placement statistics, strategies, recruiting practices at technical high schools, articulation agreement, relationship with the union, and a commercial curriculum.
The multiyear partnership is designed to provide Johnson Controls with early access to the best up-and-coming skilled techs, helping to accommodate its hiring needs. Meanwhile, Lippold said the partnering school benefits from access to new learning tools, industry experts, and new technology.
“Perhaps the biggest winner of the CareerConnect program is the student,” she said. “With access to tools, technology, internship experiences, scholarships, and industry experts, students who graduate from the program will be among the best candidates the industry has to offer in that region.”
To date, eight colleges have partnered with Johnson Controls: Greenville Tech (Greenville, S.C.), Dunwoody College of Technology (Minneapolis), Milwaukee Area Technical College (Milwaukee), GateWay Community College (Phoenix), City Colleges of Chicago (Chicago), Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee (Okmulgee, Okla.), Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (Edmonton, Alberta), and Hudson Valley Community College (Troy, N.Y.).
TEACHING DIFFERENT GENERATIONSIn an afternoon session, Dr. Katherine “Kitty” Manley teamed up with her son, Adam, in an entertaining and informative session, “Strategies for Engaging the GenX and Millennial Student.”
Dr. Manley is director of the Michigan Center for Career and Technical Education. She also teaches courses in the Master of Science in Career and Technical Education program at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. Son Adam is to earn his doctorate in Career and Technical Education at Virginia Tech this year. He earned his master’s in Education Technology from Ferris State in 2003.
The two talked, at length, regarding the general makeup and characteristics of people born 1946-1960 (Baby Boomers), 1961-1981 (Generation X), and those born 1982 through today (Millennials, or Generation Y). The idea behind the session was to provide instructors with ideas on the respective generations and how to teach each respective class.
There are approximately 78 million Boomers, which have a unique set of beliefs and characteristics, vastly different from previous generations, stressed Dr. Manley. This encompasses all aspects of life, affecting their beliefs about self, career, home, and leisure.
Their life-cycle change into mid-life will impact retailing in the next 20 years, she said. For the most part, Boomers are more optimistic economically, largely since they did not experience the Great Depression. They are better educated, are individualistic, and have a tendency to reject authority. Hectic lifestyles are common for Boomers, with their leisure time infringed upon by the various demands of life.
Meanwhile, Generation X is more ethnically diverse, they reflect the shift to service economy, and - to no surprise - technology is woven into their lives. According to Adam Manley, Generation Xers are more individualistic and self-reliant, grew up during an economic downturn, and value freedom.
“For the Generation X people, you have to invent some new teaching methods,” said Adam Manley. “The attention spans are 10 to 15 minutes.” Those in attendance nodded with approval.
Generally speaking, the Millennial Generation consists of 80 million people in the United States between the ages of 8 and 29. According to Dr. Manley, they have been exposed to more technological advances than any previous generation. Most do not remember life without pagers, cell phones, computers, or personal electronic entertainments.
While this class has benefited from training in diversity or technical matters, millennials need other types of training, including critical thinking, she said.
CALL FOR ACTIONIn the closing session, Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, revealed positive results from its own poll involving nearly 6,000 instructors and SkillsUSA advisors. It showed that 45 percent of those who complete high school trade school go on to work, while 36 percent go on to college. At the same time, 72 percent of those who graduated from college go on to work, while 10 percent go on to graduate work.
“Career and technical education instructors not only expect a lot from their students, but are witnessing the positive results of doing so,” he said.
He also encouraged the audience of teachers to advocate for career and technical education on Capitol Hill due to the elimination of Perkins Loan funding in President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget.
“We can’t allow this to happen,” said Lawrence.
At the closing session,The NEWSpresented its 2008 HVACR Instructor of the Year award to Bernie Merkel, director of service training for the International Training Institute. Due to illness, Merkel was unable to attend. Gary Andis, director of research and education for the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), accepted the award on Merkel’s behalf. AHRI is co-sponsor of the award.
Jack Herrick, an instructor at Minutemen Regional Vocational High School in Lexington, Mass., received the 2008 Plumbing Instructor of the Year award.
This annual event was also endorsed this year by the Air Movement and Control Association International (AMCA); Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA); National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA); National Air Filtration Association (NAFA); and Radiant Panel Association (RPA).
The 2009 event is scheduled to take place March 11-13, to be held again at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Va.