With strategic plans in place, York’s Quality Education & Training Center LLC in Indianapolis will be immersing students, both veterans and civilians, into a yearlong work and study program, beginning in 2014. To help draw more veterans to the HVACR industry, the school is working with a local organization called Save Our Veterans (SOV) to teach trained military personnel new skills pertinent to a profession in HVACR.

Allied in Purpose

The school wanted to do something to help veterans who often have trouble finding employment after being discharged from the military. Aaron York Sr., school cofounder and chairman of the board, said, “Veterans need something to do. They come out of the military and they can’t get a job. They become street people because they can’t get a job.” Yet York believes that vets have a lot to offer employers: They are mature, disciplined, ready to learn and have a career, and generally don’t have criminal records.

Bill Kingery, school cofounder and president, said the school was introduced to SOV through the executive director of Area 31 Career Center, which offers high school upperclassmen technical education during the school day. York is acclimated with the location, having offered his 13-week adult evening program, York’s Quality Education & Training Center, there for the last four years.

“He thought we would make a good match and introduced us,” said Kingery, reminiscing of the first meeting between the two organizations.

“The SOV was trying to find a vocation to teach veterans, though they didn’t know how to do it or what to do,” said York. “So, it became a natural fit when we found out about it. We allied with them and it works great. It’s a win-win for both of us.”

The school relocated from its previous 201 S. Rural St. location into the SOV building. Kingery said York and his family admirably donated the former facility to Shepard Academy, a faith-based organization that aids homeless families.

It was after the building was donated that the school formed its alliance with SOV. “What is interesting is that the Save Our Veteran’s Victory Center is located literally right across the railroad tracks from York’s [former] building. Therefore, the transition was not that difficult, and it was perfect timing,” commented Kingery.

Trade You

The school uses curricula “originally written as a four-year nonunion apprenticeship program by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). A person will come out [of the diploma program] as a Level 4 HVAC tech,” said Kingery. The school is an accredited training unit recognized by NCCER, he added.

NCCER is nationally recognized in all 50 states. Once students get their diplomas and certificates, these accolades will be recognized throughout the U.S., said York.

Kingery envisions that York’s Quality Education & Training Center will attract veterans from all corners of the country, who will move to Indianapolis to obtain an education before moving home to apply for positions.

The school has applied for approval from the Indiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs so that veterans can take advantage of the program, Kingery said.

One advantage veterans have when it comes to paying for their education is they “already have VA [U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs] benefits, which will pay for their schooling,” said York. “The others [civilians] have to come up with the money to pay for their education.”

In addition to residential and commercial HVACR instruction, the school will soon expand to offer other NCCER curricula programs, including general contracting, plumbing, welding, and CNC machining, as well, said York.

“The SOV has developed a relationship with Lincoln Electric to purchase and install welding booths, and more. Also, SOV has created a relationship with HAAS Automation to begin teaching CNC machine operator classes. HAAS has already delivered a CNC machine to the SOV building.”

Earn, Then Learn

The school’s NCCER program will emphasize on-the-job training and classroom and laboratory instruction. Students will typically be in school for eight hours a day for the first three months, but will then work with a contractor for the last nine months.

“After the basic fundamental course training has been completed, we then place them with an employer,” said York. “They work from 8 a.m. until noon. They get off, and they work to get paid. But, they’re working in the industry; they’re gaining some hands-on experience. They then come back to school at 2 p.m. and are in attendance until 6 p.m.”

The learning setup gives students a chance to see, when they are on the job, how their acquired knowledge is utilized in the field. York said the school encourages contractors to pay the students minimum wage. “It gives them [the students] some money. It also makes sure that they’re legal, with the insurance and so on, while they’re working.”

York summed up the school’s NCCER program this way: “It’s a one-year training program, but it is an intense program for that year. So they’re going to be getting book learning, school and laboratory learning, and actual hands-on experience in the field.”

SIDEBAR: Offsite Instruction

The school has offered courses at Area 31 Career Center for more than four years. Several area contractors have also hired school representatives to come teach their technicians, either at the contractor’s location or at the school. Jason Godby, president of Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical, Indianapolis, said he was excited when he found out that Kingery, whom he’s known for years, and York were starting York’s Quality Education & Training Center. Godby said he sent employees to the school because he recognizes York as an extremely knowledgeable HVAC professional and a trustworthy instructor. He also said there are not a lot of high-quality trade schools in that area. In addition, Godby heard another large contractor in the Indianapolis area had the school train its employees, and Kingery and York had custom created the training program specifically for the contractor.

The motivation for Godby hiring York’s Quality Education & Training Center to teach the class was to provide continued education for some of the more experienced employees and basic fundamentals to those employees new to the industry.

Godby enrolled multiple HVAC installers and service techs to the often three- to four-hour classes, one day a week, for 16-18 weeks.

Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical has a large training room with projectors and whiteboards, so it was convenient for school representatives to visit the contractor’s location, said Godby. The relocation allowed installers and techs to complete their workdays before coming to class.

The class was open to people at the company from other trades, too, if they were interested in expanding their knowledge of the construction industry. And some of the training went beyond technical information.

“Students learned some really basic, practical life skills, such as communication, that you need to know how to do to be able to function and be a good employee in the modern workforce,” said Godby. “Everyone enjoyed the class and it offered a good mix of book and hands-on training.”

Publication date: 3/17/2014

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