Miami's AC Tech Prepares Students for HVACR Careers

City and federal initiatives and the interest in energy efficiency in commercial buildings and schools have been used recently to attract job seekers in South Florida to careers in the HVAC industry.

“Energy efficiency is a paramount priority for businesses in today’s economy,” according to Art Warren, training director of the Air Conditioning Technical Center, commonly known as AC Tech. “On city and federal levels, initiatives are developing in Miami-Dade County that involve the HVAC, systems of area businesses, schools, and government buildings. These systems are major consumers of energy, and in this area, where the AC runs almost constantly, workers with cutting-edge skills in airconditioning installation and service are going to be in high demand.”

Construction job growth would provide a welcome employment boom for Florida. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state's unemployment rate was at 11.2% as of October, 2009.

In October, AC Tech celebrated 60 years of training South Florida workers for the mechanical contracting industry, and graduating students with expertise in HVACR and Upon graduation, AC Tech apprentices become journeymen workers with United Association Local 725.

A regular infusion of new talent is needed in all construction sectors, to make up for frequent workforce reductions through attrition. “The age of the average construction worker is about 47, and more retire or leave the industry every year,” says Michael Mueller, labor chairman for AC Tech’s education committee.

“As they leave the industry, more highly-trained workers will be needed to upgrade Florida’s schools and government buildings,” Mueller says. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers HVACR careers to be a strong choice for career-seeking Americans. According to the BLS, job prospects HVACR service technicians and installers “are expected to remain favorable particularly for those who have completed training from an accredited technical school or a formal apprenticeship. And there’s no need to sacrifice income for learning.

“AC Tech apprentices can earn while they learn. There’s no cost to attend the school,” Warren says. “Apprentices can make money by working for area contractors.” These contractors are members of the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of South Florida, which helps to fund the training program.

'Smart Grid' Program

Municipal programs can help fill job roles. In April, the City of Miami announced that it was partnering with Florida Power & Light (FPL), GE, Cisco Systems and Silver Spring Networks to launch “Energy Smart Miami” to help Miami-Dade County consumers and businesses save money on their energy bills. The system will employ “Smart Grid” technology, which will entail the distribution of more than one-million advanced “Smart Meters” to every home and most businesses in Miami-Dade County. These meters will help consumers and business owners by providing them with more choices over how they use and conserve electrical power.

“The widespread installation of Smart Meters will help forward-thinking business owners realize the necessity of regular AC service,” Warren says, “A well-maintained and updated system can do much to reduce energy costs. Initiating contracts for regular service with HVAC contractors can help business owners to ensure that their systems are consistently working at peak performance levels.”

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