I would like to thank The NEWS for featuring my article, “Solving the HVACR Technician Shortage,” in the Nov. 17, 2014, issue, and would like to thank you, the readers, for your overwhelming response. I received great questions and an incredible amount of positive feedback from all over the U.S. and Canada, confirming the importance of this issue and the need to solve it.
In this article, I would like to keep the momentum going by tackling the critical issue of what steps trade schools should be taking to educate and train our industry’s future technicians and installers so they can hit the ground running as soon as they graduate. This information is not only for the benefit of owners and instructors of trade schools, but it is also meant to assist contractors and future students in identifying the best trade school in their area to partner with or attend.
Partners in Placement
Most major markets have several trade schools to choose from, all of which would love to partner with contractors to increase their post-graduation job-placement rate. Use this leverage to select the school that will produce the best graduates for placement at your company.
Students must make sure their hard-earned tuition dollars go toward providing the most comprehensive education possible. These are skills that will be utilized throughout a worker’s career.
I wrote this article in collaboration with Mario Recio, owner, HVAC Technical Institute in Chicago. I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Mario in several projects over the years, and he does a phenomenal job with HVAC Technical Institute and would serve as an excellent example to anyone looking to improve their trade school program. Recio not only believes in the following recommendations, but he lives them every day in his business, and his results speak for themselves.
• Make Sure Your Curriculum is Centered on Hands-on Instruction — This is the most critical component to helping our industry’s future hit the ground running upon graduation. Nothing builds a student’s confidence quicker while simultaneously exposing areas that show room for improvement. Hands-on instruction should act as continual reinforcement to any and all book work and theory that is a part of your program.
• Select the Right Faculty — Only select, special people have the skills and aptitudes necessary to mentor others toward technical greatness. I’m sure all would agree it takes more than technical aptitude for an HVAC technician or installer to be great. Top-notch faculty members must also stay current with the times and up to date on the latest technologies. Curriculum should constantly be under revision and adjust to account for new training methods, equipment types, standards, etc., as they become available.
• Go Out of Your Way to Partner with Area Contractors/Prospective Employers for Your Future Graduates — You probably already agree that post-graduate job placement should be your main focus. What better way to do it? You should be regularly meeting with area employers to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your program and soliciting ideas for how you can improve your curriculum to better suit their needs. The more turn-key your graduates are for area employers, the higher your job placement rate will be.
• Be Committed to Continuing Education for Your Previous Graduates — This is in the best interest of the student and it will serve to improve the quality of the work performed across our industry. Employers will begin to rely on the school for instruction and come to regard the school as the trade school with added value. For example, HVAC Technical Institute provides refresher training for Sears, one of its employer-partners, who recently sent more than 75 of their technicians from all over the U.S. for additional forced-air and air conditioning training.
This is just a short list of the things HVAC Technical Institute believes in and promotes every day. Recio and I are huge advocates of advancing the HVAC industry in any way we can and welcome the opportunity to discuss this topic further and assist in any way we can, whether you’re a trade school owner or instructor, a contractor, or a potential student.
Publication date: 5/18/2015