Concentrating on more than just rules and regulations, legislation - especially the pieces coming from the current White House administration - is making a distinct effort to create jobs. Green jobs to be more precise, and in the fourth quarter of last year, Vice President Joe Biden, in concert with the Middle Class Task Force and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), released the Recovery Through Retrofit program.
Aimed to help yield maximum effectiveness of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Biden’s report outlined a national retrofit market program with the intention of inspiring new green jobs. Still working through the implementation process, reports as to its effectiveness are not yet available.
The creation of jobs, however, remains a top priority for the White House, and in early December, President Obama outlined three proposals to accelerate job growth: helping small businesses expand investment, hire workers, and access credit; investing in America’s roads, bridges, and infrastructure; and creating jobs through energy efficiency and clean energy investments. With the HVAC industry feeling the effects of the recession, especially in the residential sector, jobs are on the mind of HVAC technicians as well.
HVAC JOB TRENDSThe drop in the residential and commercial construction markets left many contractors with no choice but to lay off some of its technicians. In an industry citing a shortage of qualified workers, some of those laid off were quickly absorbed, many however live in harder hit areas and are still searching for jobs. Smaller contracting firms seem to have struggled more and some have been forced to close their doors.
One contractor, recently laid off, asked, “If there is a technician shortage, then where are all the jobs?” The simple answer, they are in the near and distant future. Many of the shortage numbers being publicized are forecasted numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Looking forward, vast opportunities are being touted in the HVAC industry as the Baby Boomers retire. With many forced to remain in the workforce for now, these predicted shortages have been pushed back slightly.
Retiring Baby Boomers aren’t the only driver of this upcoming trend. The legislation of new environmental regulation and energy-efficient mandates are driving the green trend that is creating new jobs for the up-and-coming HVAC technician and expanded job descriptions for the current HVAC technician. Weatherization, retrofits, and new construction requirements are being closely examined and regulations are being initiated to further demand energy efficiency from the HVAC equipment as well as the installation and set up processes used by the technician.
SMALL BUSINESS HELPDriving the green jobs trend with legislation, the major players on Capitol Hill are attempting to provide relief for the businesses and industries that are struggling as they wait for the turnaround to come. In a White House release from the Office of the Press Secretary, the announcement of these continued efforts came as “part of the president’s ongoing effort to take every responsible step to accelerate the pace of job growth. He views every bill through the prism of job growth and will continue to explore additional approaches as well.”
One such approach is small business help. Although not signed into law as of yet, small businesses can be on the lookout for the following:
• Tax cuts to support additional business investment in 2010. There will be a particular focus on struggling small businesses with much of the cost recouped over time.
• Zero capital gains for small businesses. The administration is calling for a one-year elimination of the tax on capital gains from new investments in small business stock.
• Extension of enhanced expensing provisions for small businesses. The administration is calling for an extension through 2010 of the ARRA provision that allows small businesses to immediately expense $250,000 of qualified investment.
• Extension of the ARRA bonus depreciation tax incentive. To give businesses an incentive to invest, the administration is calling for extending the ARRA provision that accelerates the rate at which businesses can deduct the cost of capital expenditures.
• A new tax cut for small businesses to encourage hiring in 2010.
• Elimination of fees and increasing guarantees for small businesses that borrow through major Small Business Association (SBA) programs in 2010.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGYThere have been significant investments in the highways, transit, rail, aviation, and water infrastructures. In his announcement, Obama requests additional investments along with support for merit-based infrastructure investment that leverages federal dollars. He is also looking to create new incentives for consumers who invest in energy efficient retrofits in their homes, and wants to push expansion of successful oversubscribed ARRA programs to leverage private investment in energy efficiency and create clean energy manufacturing jobs.
Seeing the success of the tax credits provided initially by ARRA, Obama sees energy efficient retrofit credits as a strong investment. “Smart, targeted investments in energy efficiency can help create jobs while improving our energy security and saving consumers money,” he said. “Congress must consider a new program to provide rebates for consumers who make energy efficiency retrofits.”
TECHNICIAN LANDSCAPEAs legislation spurs the retrofit and new construction markets and further defines energy efficiency, the HVAC technician landscape is poised for change. Highly trained and environmentally minded candidates will be the new go-to guys and the legislation in Congress now will be the factors that define the HVAC technician of the future.