“‘We can’t find good people’ —it’s the mantra of the industry,” said Cardie Saunders, regional sales and marketing manager of Carrier Northeast, and an overseer of the project.
According to Saunders, many of Carrier’s dealers in the region have complained about the ever-decreasing number of individuals willing to make a career out of hvacr. Instead of just listening to the problems of the company’s dealers, Saunders said Carrier wanted to take an active approach.
The goal of the program is to recruit and retain individuals 18 to 24 years old. This means creating a presence within area vocational schools to keep students interested in hvacr and reaching out to the area high schools to encourage students to enter the trade.
If the program is successful, Carrier Northeast will be able to find more workers for its region, as well as create interest among younger people.
Developing Trade SchoolsCarrier’s recruitment project has two phases. The first stage, already under way, focuses on taking an active part in area vocational schools.
According to Saunders, five vocational schools have already been chosen to participate in the program. By fall of 2001, Carrier would like to be active with 11 different area vo-tech schools. Carrier will have a close relationship to these schools to ensure that they provide quality education and keep the current students interested in the trade they have selected.
According to Saunders, part of this first phase will require Carrier to make donations to the schools that have been chosen.
Carrier Northeast will also establish a presence in each school by taking time to speak with the hvacr classes. Twice a year, Carrier will send representatives of the company to instruct and share information. The manufacturer is looking at sending a service manager, as well as a Carrier salesperson.
“No one is giving education on how to sell and how to market,” said Saunders. He also says that the future technicians need to learn that “people are willing to pay for comfort.”
The recruitment program will also give students in the participating schools several benefits to further their education and help them secure a future in the industry.
One benefit is a scholarship. Carrier will be awarding $33,000 in scholarship money. This breaks down to three $1,000 scholarships in each of the 11 vocational schools.
Saunders says that students will need to write an essay to apply for the scholarship. The instructors will then choose the student they believe is most deserving of the money. The scholarship is then used to pay for tuition at the school they are attending.
The students who earn the scholarships will also be invited to work for an area 5-Star Carrier dealer.
Finally, Carrier is hoping to develop a day for students and dealers to gather and make connections. This will offer students the opportunity to network and dealers the chance to find new and qualified workers. Saunders pointed out that technicians would benefit from dealer-sponsored internships.
High School RecruitmentMany in the industry believe that in order to find more qualified technicians and to raise interest in the trade, there must be more focus on appealing to high school students.
The second phase of Carrier Northeast’s recruitment program is designed to do just that. So far, Saunders says that Carrier has started a direct mail campaign to area schools. The manufacturer has sent information on the benefits of working in the hvacr industry to high school guidance counselors and principals. Saunders says that Carrier Northeast may be able to send representatives and salespeople to the high schools in order to do some recruiting and educating.
“The biggest challenge is the measure of sending students to college,” said Saunders. He explains that the success of a high school is usually measured by the number of students it sends to a university or other college degree program. The recruitment program would aim to change that perception among school counselors.
Saunders says that the second phase of the program is risky, and that there are no guarantees that it will be successful. But Saunders also says that Carrier is willing to try and alleviate the problems of its dealers.
If the Carrier Northeast recruitment program yields positive results, Saunders says he can see the idea spreading to other regions of the country.
Publication date: 05/21/2001