Tech Pay a Problem

I just finished reading Joanna Turpin’s July 31 editorial. She is exactly right.

I am the hvacr instructor at Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, OK. I guess the contractors and technicians see me as a neutral party, so I get to hear both sides of the story.

Contractors expect my students to be aware of their expectations. Every school year I invite contractors to visit my class and speak to students. A common thread between all contractors is the employability skills or “soft skills” they want from my students. Most contractors never mention technical skill as the most important. They usually expect me to cover the basics, and they will take them from there.

On the other side, my students (future technicians) expect a return on their investment in training. Unfortunately, this usually takes several years. Most contractors in the Oklahoma City metro [area] have been burned by fresh greenhands, and they are not willing to pay the starting salaries needed to attract the best and brightest.

I read the employment ads on a regular basis. Something is wrong when a 7-Eleven ad starts employees at $8.50/hr with benefits, and a contractor calls me and wants to start one of my graduates for $7/hr and no benefits for a year, and then only the minimum. I don’t blame young men and women for avoiding such employment, and I usually encourage them to wait for a better offer.

You are probably more aware of the shortage of technicians than I am. In the defense of some of our local contractors, they are helping. They are paying a decent wage, and even sponsoring students to continue their education and training. I think articles like you are writing will help open more eyes. Keep up the good work.

David Murphy Hvacr Instructor Canadian Valley Technology Center El Reno, OK

Not Only a U.S. Concern

I am writing to you after reading the article on why technicians leave for better pay. I am working as a lecturer at Carlisle College of Tafe in Perth, Western Australia, and the article did not surprise me at all. This trend, leaving for better money, is also typical for Australia.

Most employed people will always look at the colour of grass on the other side of the fence. A lot of our apprentices are looking forward to having their training completed so that they may seek employment where they could earn more money. It seems that work security is not so important anymore because of this trend. I am not only looking at the hvac industry but also other industries.

The fortunate issue is that the older employees will maintain their loyalty to a much higher degree than the really young ones with no commitments.

Torgils Sorlie Perth, Western Australia

Give Me the Shivers

“Putting Heat Pumps to Work in Commercial Settings” [August 14, page 22] was a great article. I did notice, however, that Figures 1 and 2 show hot liquid refrigerant leaving the compressor. Your articles are great and very informative, but the thought of a vapor pump (compressor) pumping liquid sends shivers up my spine. Keep up the good work.

Mark Ballard White House, TN

Publication date: 08/28/2000