ST. LOUIS —  Unico Inc., a maker of small-duct heating and air conditioning systems, has signed on as a major sponsor of a nationwide initiative to encourage young people to join skilled trades. The program, Generation Next, will help raise money from companies and trade associations serving the home construction and renovation industry to support scholarships for students pursuing careers as HVAC specialists and plumbers, carpenters, electricians, roofers, and masons.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation will receive all funds raised by the Generation Next campaign. Mike Rowe started the foundation to help close the skills gap caused by the aging of the current workforce and a shrinking pool of new people entering the trades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 3.1 million unfilled skilled labor jobs today with an additional 2.5 million expected by the end of 2017.

“Our product, The Unico System, is installed by contractors who we consider to be the ‘best-of-the-best’ in HVAC. We are supporting mikeroweWORKS and Generation Next because we want to make sure that these great HVAC craftsmen have a bright new generation of quality installers joining and continually improving the industry,” said Scott Intagliata, marketing director at Unico.  

This Old House Ventures launched Generation Next in late 2016. Later this year, the cast of the TV show “This Old House” will renovate a house to showcase the skills that are needed for a successful project. Unico is donating a complete HVAC system that will be installed in the home. The Unico System is ideal for older homes that do not have central air; the small-diameter, tubular ducts are flexible and can snake above ceilings, below floors, and between walls, eliminating the need for soffits and drop ceilings. This “hidden” heating and air conditioning system provides even temperatures and operates quietly, making it a popular choice for homeowners.

On the show, the expert tradespeople from “This Old House” will also dispel myths about skilled jobs and shed light on the surprising benefits, rewards, and opportunities that these careers can provide.

“We’re very pleased to be part of this important effort to inspire more young people to pursue careers in the building trades,” Intagliata said. “Closing the skills gap is an important mission, and the Unico System stands ready to support the HVAC industry and the building trades.”

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Publication date: 1/13/2017

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