In an effort to raise awareness of the industry, attract new members to the workforce, and enhance the quality of the available workforce in the industry, the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation has been formed by eight HVACR and water heating industry associations. According to the foundation, it will lead “an industry effort to develop and promote educational projects, programs, and partnerships to attract committed and skilled employees to a career in HVACR.”

Foundation members include Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA); Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); the Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA); ASHRAE; Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI); Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI); the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC); and RSES.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is leverage all of the resources we have available. Before, most of our sister associations and we did our own thing with regard to workforce development. What this does is bring together the resources of all the organizations under one umbrella, which is the foundation. Each organization contributes money to the foundation, and then we use that money to develop materials, videos, and resources that we can use to attract folks to our industry, in terms of being technicians and installers and that sort of thing, and even, frankly, folks to work in our members’ factories,” said Francis Dietz, vice president of public affairs, AHRI.

The foundation will market to the industry, as well as federal and state education and labor departments, and career and technical education programs. It will also educate secondary school principals, counselors, and teachers of the career prospects in the HVACR industry. In addition, it will seek funding for developing programs for education and training of those entering and already in the HVACR workforce and will work with HVACR educators and training instructors on career development activities.

“This foundation is representative of the industry’s effort to promote education, projects, and partnerships that will attract committed and skilled employees to the industry,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI. “The HVACR and water heating industry offers a great career path, and we want more people to be a part of it.”

“The benefits of this foundation will quickly be felt throughout our industry,” said ACCA president and CEO Paul Stalknecht. “It only makes sense to pool our efforts and leverage our resources to improve awareness of our industry and its benefits and attract future employees,” he added.

Warren Heeley, president of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), sees good things from cross-border cooperation. “Our industries are inextricably linked, so it is to our mutual benefit to partner on these key industry initiatives,” he said.

The Employment Picture

According to the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010-11 edition, Job Outlook, the employment need of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to increase “34 percent during 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all [non-HVACR] occupations. The growing number of sophisticated climate-control systems is also expected to increase demand for qualified HVACR technicians. Climate-control systems generally need replacement after 10 to 15 years. A large number of recently constructed homes and commercial buildings will need replacement climate-control systems by 2020, spurring demand for technicians.”

The foundation said though less than the number needed for HVACR mechanics and installers, there also will be significant growth in the need for engineers and trained workers in manufacturing and wholesale distribution.

Publication date: 7/23/2012