Addressing the HVAC Technician Shortage

It is not news that there is a growing labor shortage in the HVAC industry. Companies are facing increasing pressure to find qualified workers as the current workforce retires and demand for more workers rises. Job openings are growing while the industry encounters a dwindling pool of qualified job-seekers. Whether you are a manufacturer or a contractor, it’s clear that something needs to be done to identify solutions to alleviate the HVAC technician shortage and help meet future demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), estimates the current HVAC technician shortage at 70,000, and that there will be a need for 115,000 new HVACR professionals to meet the demand within the next four years! With the current workforce estimated to be around 230,000, that would equal an increase of almost 50%s. Meanwhile, the BLS believes there will be a loss of about 12,000 workers per year. This is a huge problem.  It’s easy to see that if something isn’t done soon, the HVACR workforce will shrink to less than 210,000 by 2022 — a loss of 20,000. With a need for 330,000 workers in the HVACR industry, more than 36% of these jobs would be vacant!

What is being done?

Recently, we saw two big steps forward taken to address the HVAC technician shortage facing the HVAC industry.

1) President Donald Trump pressed U.S. companies and trade associations to bolster their job training opportunities as employers search for qualified skilled workers to fill vacancies. On July 19th, President Trump signed an executive order to develop a national strategy to expand job-training and apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers and give them the proper tools to succeed in the American workforce. The executive order President Trump signed establishes the National Council for the American Worker, which will develop a national strategy for training and retraining workers for high-demand industries.

ACCA has been urging Congress and the Administration to expand apprenticeships, making them a viable option for in demand careers like those in HVAC. Now is the time for increasing on-the-job training and providing students and workers the training they need to succeed in the American workforce.

2) On July 31, President Donald Trump signed into law a career and technical education bill, desperately needed by many employers, educators, and lawmakers. The bipartisan legislation will help align the U.S. education system with the nation’s rapidly evolving workforce needs. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously, reforms the American career, technical, and vocational education system for the first time since 2006.

Among many important changes to skills-based education, the bill boosts the funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program by up to $1.3 billion annually. The program will benefit secondary and post-secondary students across the country, providing on-the-job training in various fields including.

Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Vice President of Government Affairs Palmer Schoening has released the following statement in regard to the  signing of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act:

“The issue of recruiting the next generation into the skilled trades is one of the biggest challenges facing our industry today. Not only does this legislation take an important step towards alleviating the labor shortage in the trades, but it also promotes more training and certification for technicians. HARDI applauds the President and Congress for their bipartisan efforts in keeping grants for CTE education in place by reauthorizing the Perkins Act through the passage and signing of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.”

Although there is still a long way to go to fill the gap in qualified technicians, these acts will help get the ball rolling to create more professional HVACR contractors, who will enter the workforce with the tools and knowledge they need to fill the in-demand jobs in the HVACR industry.

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