The subject line on the unsolicited e-mail caught my eye: “Mark, an education for the future.” The beginning of the message was just as alluring.

“The bad news: Did you know that over half of the people in the United States who lost their jobs during 2001 were ages 16-24? Young people in that range were six times more likely than the nation’s older adults to experience an employment decline. According to Northeastern University researchers, the data from December 2001 and January 2002 on youth employment losses show that the grim trend is continuing.

“The good news: According to the United State Bureau of the Census, the more education a person has, the lower the chances are for unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing occupations are in fields involving computers.”

Stop. Hit the “delete” key.

I was pulled into an unpaid marketing message for a technical school, which is obviously looking for more students in that field. I guess I was naïve to think that this “education for the future” was going to be in the hvacr field.

It’s a shame.


Now thatThe Newshas volunteered to help Oakland County (MI) Schools produce a thriving hvacr program at the high school level, we are finding out that pointing teenagers to this career path is not an easy task. Yes, we knew that before we started, but we also know that young people are needed in this industry. If they want a promising career, this is it, we tell them.

If I had the opportunity to send an e-mail to every teenager in the United States, my subject line would state: “We need you!” The message would be that an additional 20,000 technicians and installers are needed each year to work in a fast-paced, ever-growing, multi-billion-dollar industry that offers variety, job security, respect, upward mobility, great salary, lifelong employment, and plenty of opportunity. It’s not a lie to say that hvacr employment can take you just about anyplace in the world.

Teenagers may not realize it, but technical jobs are the fastest growing segment of the economy. Jobs in this $150 billion-a-year industry are predicted to only increase, as demand grows for industrial, commercial, and residential climate control systems. To maintain or replace older comfort systems, additional new jobs will be created.

Most teenagers also may not know that the hvacr industry offers well-paying jobs, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 a year. Sales and business hvacr jobs offer similar compensation. To sell ourselves to the computer-minded crowd, we have to point out that the growing demand for CAD (computer-aided design) specialists has led to higher salaries, often beginning at $40,000 per year.

I am preaching to the choir here, but we have to stress to 13 to 18 year olds that hvacr is a necessity today for personal comfort, medical health, food preservation, water supply, and work productivity. Almost all human activities rely on hvacr in one way, shape, or form. Why not be a part of this?

From here on out, consider this to be a part of every contractor’s role: Pitch this industry to teenagers. If high school counselors are not selling this trade, you all should be.


According to “World Hvac Equipment,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, world demand for hvac equipment is projected to increase 5% per year through 2006, reaching $110 billion. Noted in this study (produced by the Cleveland, OH-based industrial market research firm), particularly favorable prospects will be found in the Asia/Pacific region, where ongoing industrialization and rising personal incomes will provide opportunities for suppliers.

The study notes that heat transfer equipment will remain the largest segment, reaching $20.2 billion in the year 2006. Meanwhile, room air conditioners are expected to exhibit above-average gains in less than four years, “due to significant untapped market potential in numerous countries, especially in the developing regions,” the study states.

The bottom line: Teenagers, as well as people in their early 20s, do not have to experience a pink slip with all the growth potential in this industry. If you tell them this, they may follow. But they have to hear it. That’s where you come in. We all need to tell them.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 05/27/2002