HVACR Business

OCT 2017

Help hvacr contractors master the critical components of business management.

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15 HVACR BUSINESS OCTOBER 2017 www. hvacrbusiness .com continued on page 16 BY ROBERT SCHROELL INTEGRATE YOUR WORKFORCE To combat the skilled labor shortage, inspire youth to explore science, technology, engineering and math — and a career in the trades W hen the recession hit in late-2007, employment in the construction and manufacturing in- dustries fell drastically, with more than 4 million jobs lost by the end of 2009. As a result of the prolonged recession, many individuals le the trades, found employ- ment elsewhere and have not returned to the industry. While the industry — including HVACR companies — is thriving a de- cade later, for those contractors le stand- ing, an even greater challenge weighs heavily on owners: the critical shortage of skilled labor required to replace retiring workers and allow for growth. e Manufacturing Institute reports that approximately 22 percent of skilled manufacturing workers, or 2.7 million val- ued employees, are retiring over the next decade. Industry growth means companies will need to add another 700,000 skilled employees or a total of 3.4 million workers over the next 10 years. Due to a variety of factors, the indus- try is projected to fall a startling 2 million workers short of its needs. Debunking Labor Shortage As contractors seek to recruit, train and retain qualified talent to fill the gaps le by the retiring workforce, they're challenged with connecting with the Millennial and Z generations. Jobs in the construction in- dustry, while both economically and intel- lectually rewarding, do not appear to have the same appeal as technolog y-based jobs have to the Millennial workforce. Accordingly, while many job vacancies exist, they do not attract the attention of today's job seekers. One reason is the gen- erational divide in the workforce — Baby Boomers are hard to break from traditional recruitment initiatives, while Millennials rely on social media to obtain information on the employment landscape. Many Millennials have a misconcep- tion that HVACR jobs are associated with long, tedious workdays and monotonous assembly lines. Appropriately, these young job seekers are under the impression that a four-year college degree is required to enter the competitive workforce. In reali- ty, only about a third of jobs in the near future will require four-year degrees or higher. Research indicates that there are five alternative paths to success that do not re- quire a bachelor's degree: employer-based training, industry-based certifications, ap- prenticeships, postsecondary certificates and associate degrees. Career and technical training is becoming the entry-level re- quirement for many middle-skilled jobs. Another common misconception is that technological advances are a threat to filling these jobs. While robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advancements are making manufacturing companies less reliant on human workers for certain tasks, they're also creating new jobs that require specialized skills such as program- ming, analytics and problem-solving. ese advanced, technical skills will only increase as manufacturers accelerate their efforts to automate and digitize. Fortunately, the HVACR industry is evolving technolog y-wise and a lot of elec- tromechanical knowledge is required to support company growth. Subsequently, more education is re- quired around these advancements leading to more and more technical colleges of- fering programs targeted to the HVACR industry. Career and technical training is becoming the entry-level requirement for many middle-skilled jobs.

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