Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO of the ACCA, testified before Congress on Feb. 24 to discuss the shortage of workers entering the HVACR field. He told the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, that the HVACR industry is facing a workforce crises due to the difficulties in recruiting skilled workers to the field.

Stalknecht reported that more than half of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s members have fewer than 10 employees and generate less that $1 million in annual revenue. According to the 2007 economic census, the industry employs nearly 200,000 mechanics, installers, helpers, and related personal. The average annual salary for HVACR technicians is $46,500. However, despite the current economic downturn in the construction industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the need for HVACR mechanics and installers will grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018.

Stalknecht said that Congress needs to develop federal policies that will create job training and career counseling for young workers. He also said that on-the-job training is crucial to the success of new apprentices, and that federal policies should be expanded to supported local apprenticeship training.

Finally, Stalknecht said Congress should continue to support and expand the roles of the Workforce Investment Boards where they involve local business leaders along with representatives from schools and trades. He also believes that Congress should assist small businesses that develop their own in-house training programs to meet unfulfilled needs, especially in rural areas. To view the complete written testimony from Stalknecht,