OMAHA, NE - The Heating and Cooling Contractor’s Association (HACCA) of greater Omaha faces the same dilemma as the rest of the country: a shortage of technicians in the field. That’s why the organization is taking action.

About four years ago, a committee was formed to discuss the school-to-career programs that are cropping up across the country. Janice Cullen Britton, president of HACCA, spearheaded the committee.

Along with the Omaha Job Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization in conjunction with Metropolitan Community College, a program was initiated and the first 16 students were enrolled into the two-year program designed for the 11th and 12th grade.

Four years later, six students are actively employed as technicians and a seed has been planted in the minds of the remaining 33 that attended one or two of the classes.

The program introduces students to a variety of hvacr-related occupations while providing academic and hands-on experience in the industry. Career opportunities are provided in the form of:

  • Tuition assistance for courses at Metropolitan Community College by either HACCA or a sponsoring business; and

  • A paid internship placement with an hvacr business.

Students attend classes Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The internships are usually performed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:30 p.m. until business closing (or as dictated by the high school students’ dismissal schedule).

Typical courses may include industrial safety, refrigeration electrical theory and application, service principles, basic automatic controls, gas heat, and compressors.

Dual enrollment credit is offered to participants. Students receive normal credit from their respective high school and specific credits from the college. In some cases, the high schools grant additional credits for the internship component.

Tools are provided by HACCA and remain in the classroom for each ensuing class to use. Also, the sponsoring business may provide tools for the student during the internship.

The program allows students to not only explore careers in the hvacr industry, but it also helps them develop effective human relations skills and demonstrate appropriate workplace behaviors and attitudes, along with developing analytical and problem-solving skills.

To learn more about the program, contact the HACCA office at 402-592-7474.