Trade jobs in general are really struggling to find talented individuals interested in the opportunities. The “dark and dangerous” stigma needs to start being overturned, and people need to realize the great success that can be found in industries like HVACR. That’s why HARDI, Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International, is working on a workforce recruitment initiative that includes a video project to highlight different people with different backgrounds working in different roles in the HVACR industry. Different people with different backgrounds working in different roles in the HVACR industry The Video project “HARDI has access to a lot of success stories and can find great examples of people that have worked hard and built themselves great careers,” says Chris DeBoer, HARDI Director of Marketing and Sales. “It is our duty to help our members, and this is one of the ways we feel we can give back to them.” That’s why they are developing the “Hot Commodity” video project. “The goal was not to make [the video] specific to one type of person but open it up to show that no matter the experience or background there are opportunities available,” says DeBoer. The Hot Commodity video highlights diversity among the characters but also the roles and companies out there hiring as well. A shorter version of the film can be used by HARDI members or others attending a career fair, going on a school visit, sharing on social media, etc. No matter the experience or background there are opportunities available" An HVAC Documentary A longer version of the film is still being worked on. It is meant to be a full-length documentary one might see on Netflix, Amazon, etc. “People are more willing to watch things that are informative as long as they entertain,” says DeBoer. The goal is to entertain while also spreading awareness. He points to films such as “An Inconvenient Truth,” which sparked the climate change conversation; and “Supersize Me” that changed millions of people’s perspective on fast food. “The hope is that we can start changing perspectives about the industry and the great success that is obtainable should someone choose this as a career path,” DeBoer notes. “The full film is for people to self-discover more so than the short film, where there is already a reason to share.” The 8-minute short version of “Hot Commodity” is available on the “HARDI Hub” website. The Development of the full film We are hoping to get it shared enough to get some buzz and get it on streaming platforms" “The full film is currently getting some final touches and we are hoping to get it shared enough to get some buzz and get it on streaming platforms,” says DeBoer. “Final details on distribution are still being worked on.” The greatest hope would be to get the longer film on streaming platforms and to educate more of the masses about the industry. “It would be great for members to work with us on a grassroots effort, but I also think we need to think broader about reaching people in areas where members might not be proactive with spreading the news,” says DeBoer. There may be additional videos still in the works. “There has been some discussion around developing a series of shorter films around each of the individual characters to create a mini-series to be used in different recruitment efforts,” says DeBoer. "I think this could be a way to really target certain people based on specific situations.”
The HVAC industry has more eventual jobs to fill from among recent high school graduates than there are people to hire. One problem is that high school graduates often don’t consider a technical trade as a viable career path. Perhaps influenced by school counselors, parents or even peer groups, many students single-mindedly pursue a four-year college degree (whether or not their academic history supports such a decision). Many young folks miss the opportunity to create a more direct path to prosperity – and a better life – through a career in the trades. StrataTech's Survey One reason high-school graduates don’t pursue trade careers is a lack of awareness, according to a survey by StrataTech Education Group, which operates several skilled-trade institutions, including The Refrigeration School Inc. The company conducted the study to explore attitudes and beliefs about trade schools and skilled trade careers among young Americans and their parents. 33% of survey respondents don’t know about available options The most common reason high school students don’t consider a trade school is that they don’t know the options available. According to the StrataTech study, 33% of survey respondents don’t know about available options. Other barriers to trade school cited by respondents are expense (30%), lack of confidence in their ability to perform a skilled trade (26%), and pressure from the community to attend a 4-year university (23%). Slightly more than half of students surveyed (51%) said they considered attending a trade school. CEO of StrataTech Speaks Out There is no one-size-fits-all path to success for high school graduates Mary Kelly, president and CEO of StrataTech Education Group, says there is no one-size-fits-all path to success for high school graduates. “For decades, students believed a 4-year degree is necessary to succeed in life, but we believe differently. We are optimistic this research show perceptions are shifting and there are opportunities to strengthen pathways to skilled trade opportunities.” One challenge is that high schools tend to push the idea of college over trade school. In the survey, only 32% of respondents reported that their high school promotes trade school education as a potential path (compared to 73% promoting 4-year universities and 45% promoting 2-year college programs). Parental objection does not seem to be an obstacle to a student choosing to attend a trade school. Among parents in the survey, 93% said they would support their child’s choice to pursue a career in skilled trades. Specifically, 62% said they would provide emotional support, 57% would provide major financial support, and 47% would offer limited financial support, such as letting the child continue to live at home while pursuing a skilled trade certification. A majority of survey respondents see trade or vocational schools as just as “credible” as traditional college – 82% of responding parents and 73% of students. The survey included 1,000 high school students and 1,000 parents of high school students across the United States. Addressing The Shortage Many students who sought a 4-year degree have been disappointed by their job prospects Addressing the skilled worker shortage in the HVAC industry will require approaches on multiple fronts, and directing high school graduates toward technical trade careers is an important element of the broader effort. Many students who sought a 4-year degree have been disappointed by their job prospects after they graduate. Pursuing a technical trade career, such as HVAC, provides a more direct path between high school graduation and an independent life built around a successful career. HVAC professionals can play a role in communicating with today’s youth about the value of their work, their job satisfaction, and the better life available with a well-paying job. Encouragement can go a long way to overcome any lack of confidence among young people about their ability to perform a skilled trade. As the StrataTech survey results suggest, there is a solid foundation to build on and an opportunity to attract more young people to the trades. The future of our industry depends on it.
Smart homes are a key focus at CES 2020, the world’s largest technology event, January 7-10 in Las Vegas. The giant show features more than 170,000 attendees, 4,500 exhibitors and 1,100 industry thought-leaders featured on the CES stage. A range of technologies will be on display, from artificial intelligence (AI) to 5G, vehicle technology to AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality), robotics to home automation. smart home environment The role of intelligent HVAC systems in the smart home will be featured at the show, and the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on HVAC systems (among other technologies) will be prominent. HVAC is an element that provides measurable value in the smart home environment. The Nest intelligent thermostat is almost a decade old. In the years since its introduction, HVAC has become even more intrinsically integrated into the intelligent home. “Market players are looking to expand beyond established smart home devices like smart thermostats and networked cameras to products like smart water leak detectors, smart pet feeders, and smart air purifiers,” says Elizabeth Parks, President, Parks Associates. Electronic door lock approach The Resideo T-Series smart thermostats support wireless Smart Room Sensors “For the smart home market at CES this year, we expect to see numerous announcements regarding home awareness,” says Blake Kozak, Senior Principal Analyst at IHS Markit. “The impact of this [event] for the smart home could be about delivering home analytics and enhancing privacy through cloudless architectures and new electronic door lock approaches,” he adds. An example of home analytics is the Resideo Home app, introduced in December, which will make whole-home monitoring possible for four critical networks of the home – water, air, energy and security. Resideo promises a “simplified and integrated smart home experience.” The Resideo T-Series smart thermostats support wireless Smart Room Sensors to balance and prioritize temperatures in the home. air management controller Daikin North America will be showing the Daikin One+ smart thermostat, an intelligent home air management controller. Beyond a typical smart thermostat, it is a controller for a full professional HVAC system with a growing ecosystem of air quality modules to give consumers more control over the air they breathe and a premium HVAC experience. OxiCool is launching HomeCool, a clean and resilient AC technology. It is designed to provide clean and silent air-conditioning for the home. The product can be configured to operate off solar thermal, natural gas, propane or electricity. It uses no harmful refrigerant and only four natural elements—earth, water, fire and air. The clean technology uses molecular sieves in vacuum-sealed units made from stainless steel and uses zero GWP water as its refrigerant. unified solution to consumers “Consumers who already own smart home products are buying more devices,” says Parks. “A key issue to address though is the lack of purchases occurring with the non-owners of these devices. Despite purchase intentions being high, consumers are not making the purchase to move adoption of products. After 10 years of being in the market, smart thermostats still only have about 11-13% adoption rate in the U.S." "In 2020, we will see companies working to provide a unified solution to consumers through professional installation and also continue to see the single-point solution pushed to get consumers in the door with a single product and expand from there.”
ASHRAE and NIST have pledged to strengthen their partnership focusing on key issues in the HVAC market. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizes the agreement and sets the stage for continued cooperation for the benefit of the HVAC marketplace. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, is a global professional society committed to advancing the arts and sciences of heating ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and related fields. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness to enhance economic security and quality of life. Scientific Knowledge Combines With HVAC Equipment Promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness to enhance economic security and quality of life NIST’s HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group seeks to expand scientific knowledge and improve the energy efficiency of HVAC equipment. Their research activities encompass analytical and experimental studies of new-generation refrigerants, experimental and simulation investigations of space-conditioning systems in current and net-zero energy buildings, and research of cooling/refrigeration technologies. The agreement, signed Nov. 4, outlines how ASHRAE and NIST will work cooperatively to improve HVAC&R technologies and their applications. New cooperative efforts between ASHRAE and NIST will focus on several key areas: Improving building performance and cost effectiveness, including through increases in energy and water efficiency and storage technologies, and the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants; Improving interoperability of building systems as well as building integration with the electric grid; Supporting innovation and standards development; Strengthening resiliency of the built environment; and Bolstering cybersecurity of HVAC&R infrastructure. The Memo of Understanding was signed by ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce and Dr. Walter G. Copan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director. “The missions of ASHRAE and NIST reflect our collective efforts to advance building performance and support integrated solutions to improve health and productivity in buildings,” says Boyce. “NIST staff have long been involved with ASHRAE through participation in the development of standards, serving on numerous technical committees and sharing many of their research results in ASHRAE publications. We are excited to formalize our partnership with NIST as we strive to collectively build a more sustainable future and enhance the wellbeing of building occupants in the communities we serve.” Mutual Interests Improve the performance, resilience, sustainability and cybersecurity of the built environment “This [understanding] confirms the many areas of mutual interest between NIST and ASHRAE as we work to advance energy-efficient technologies and improve indoor environments,” said Copan. “We look forward to working with our ASHRAE colleagues to promote public-private partnerships and technology transfer to improve the performance, resilience, sustainability and cybersecurity of the built environment.” Current projects of the NIST HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group include characterization of the performance of potential novel refrigerants. The group is developing test and predictive methods for characterizing flammability of mildly flammable single-component refrigerants and blends. The best-known contributions of the group relate to the research of environmentally acceptable refrigerants, development of advanced simulation tools, and formulation of the SEER and HSPF performance descriptors for the test procedures of residential air conditioners and heat pumps.
Teenage students at Greenfield-Central High School in Indiana are learning about the installation, operation and maintenance of air-handling systems. The career and technical education class is giving them a head start toward a decent-paying career in HVAC, including the opportunity to earn multiple certifications. “You’ll get a job if someone else doesn’t have the certifications you do, so [there are] more job opportunities,” one student told the Greenfield Daily Reporter. Addressing the industry's labor shortage The program highlights an opportunity to address the HVAC industry’s labor shortage by nurturing a next-generation workforce starting at an early age – in high school. Vocational programs teach HVAC as well as masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing Marathon High School in Wisconsin is another example; their vocational programs teach HVAC as well as masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing. “This course only exists because local contractors have been contacting me about the need to meet the demands of society,” John Vanderwyst, Tech Education Teacher at Marathon High School, told WZAW Fox7. “What we find is that a lot of these young adults don’t even realize that our profession exists,” says Jon Hirsch, Director of Business Development at Auer Steel in Milwaukee. “Unfortunately, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them,” he told WZAW Fox7. Statistical projections bear out the observation nationwide: Training and education programs will graduate only a fraction of the 115,000 additional HVAC workers needed by the year 2022. Career or College? Training and education programs will graduate only a fraction of the 115,000 additional HVAC workers needed by the year 2022 In an age when college debt can ruin a graduate’s finances even as he or she struggles to find employment, career path alternatives may seem more appealing. College is clearly not for everyone: More than half of all Americans who enroll in college become dropouts. College can also be cost-prohibitive, with a private four-year degree costing approximately $48,000 a year. It’s a great time to remind students and young adults about the value of a career in HVAC, where the median pay for mechanics and installers in 2018 was $47,610 per year. There is also a higher-than-average outlook for job growth in the industry – 13% growth over the next decade, from 367,900 employees to 414,200. HVAC Career opportunities The median pay for mechanics and installers in 2018 was $47,610 per year The reality is that graduates of technical school programs can earn more and have better career opportunities. The highest degree level needed for HVAC work is an associate (2-year) course of study, which is much less expensive than a bachelor’s degree program. According to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, HVAC techs with a high school diploma (or less) stand to earn $1.6 million in their lifetime. Having some college and/or an associate degree only raises that outlook by $200,000 to $1.8 million. More than half of employees in the HVAC field (51.1%) have a high school diploma or less. As Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, there will be a gaping hole of experience and knowledge to fill. Dan Canter is doing his part. Since retiring from the HVAC industry, he has been serving as the instructor for the course at Greenfield-Center High School.