Training is a necessity for us all. We all want the best employees, yet will debate, question and dissect how to go about implementing or even offering it.
While I did not interject in the conversation, I will admit, I have thought that if we invest in our team, we may also risk that they’ll take their knowledge and move on. Ultimately, if we don’t continually offer room for improvement and advancement of skills, we’re not striving to be the best company we can. Regardless of the stance a company takes on how or if training should be paid, the fact is (at the very least) it must be offered, constantly.
Rightfully so, field technicians should be our first line of those eligible for continuing education. Proper licensing, code, manufacturer and government regulations mandate it.
Today, there is a shortage of licensed, trained or experienced technicians actively seeking employment in our field. For this, as industry leaders agree, we must hire for attitude and teach skill. Ideally, we have candidates applying from the trade schools, but even then we must continue to teach and coach.
Not only must we constantly train our young or inexperienced technicians, but also offer additional opportunities for our well-seasoned ones. Technology, manufacturer and code changes are constant. No technician in the field is immune to the need for additional, new and updated skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 34 percent industry growth in the next decade. While I am honored to be a part of such a growing field, these additional numbers are worriso
- 31 percent of the current HVACR workforce is expected to retire and will need to be replaced in less than 10 years.
- 65 percent of the current HVACR workforce will not be in the industry in the next 10 years.
In addition, considering 50 percent of current HVACR instructors are expected to retire within 10 years, it has become our responsibility to offer continuing education and advancement at every level. It has become essential to all of us for the success of our industry.
Fast track academies, e-learning classes, trade coaches and mentors need to be utilized. Local trade organizations and chapters that offer personal education credits or safety courses as well as our suppliers should be depended on for learning.
It is our field technicians that are the first and/or last face-to-face interaction that our customer has with us. An inexperienced or poorly cultivated tech is likely to cause a customer to not repeat their business. Today’s client will utilize the Internet to research and find contractors that employ educated and confident specialists in the field. This requires training!
If our field is our first priority, what then of the rest of us?
Need for Education is Constant
Personally, as a contractor, I have a passion for the office and its need for learning. None of my office employees came from an HVACR university, so it should be ok to admit that they need the training.
Here again, not only are technologies constantly changing, but so is our trade. Manufacturing changes are constant and customers are changing daily. Educational, coaching and mentoring opportunities should be available to office and support staff. It’s the office and support staff that is critical to the relationship with our customer. Not only must they know new technologies, understand manufacturer and equipment advancements, but adjust their customer service skills and build value to become comfort advisers. This too requires constant learning.
If we live in a world of constant change, then we must accept the need to implement constant training – not the need to be a perpetual student, but the understanding of the continual need to learn. We must join organizations that promote growth and education in our industry. We must join excellence groups, network, learn, mentor and teach. Those that commit to excellence will thrive in the projected growth ahead in our industry. Those that refuse will continue to struggle and wonder why they have to work so hard to constantly hire new, inexperienced, untrained teams.
As women, I believe we are considered natural nurturers. We should always include and communicate the need to train, including ourselves. It’s a necessary part of growth in our industry and should be considered a benefit – not only to the employee (as part of a benefit package), but to our companies themselves.
Amy Davis is vice president of Budget Heating, Cooling, Plumbing. As a woman who started an HVAC business six years ago with her business partner and just one employee, Davis recommends the need to train. She also proudly boasts that today, Budget Heating, Cooling, Plumbing employs 32 people. Davis is also a board member of Women in HVACR.