According to data from the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation, by 2022 our industry will be facing a staffing shortfall of 115,000 contractors, making recruiting new HVACR professionals even more challenging than it is already. In states like Idaho, Washington and West Virginia, where a study by the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation found job postings are already going unfilled for 5-6 weeks on average, the problems will be even more severe.
Now is the time to act. Here are five ways you can do your part TODAY to help secure the future of our industry.
1. Develop votech and training school relationships
Recruiting existing HVACR professionals will not help our industry’s shortage. The first step has to be helping bring young people into the profession. Use this acronym for working with local trade schools:
H — Help with the curriculum;
V — Verify future service needs;
A — Advocate for legislation to supply monetary aid to programs;
C — Collaborate with surrounding businesses, schools, and other industry experts; and
R — Recruit new students.
The relationships you build with instructors and students will be some of the most valuable to getting the best local talent hired at your business.
2. Create educational opportunities within your business
Do you offer job shadowing, apprenticeships, or mentoring programs in your business? Think of these programs as both a way to give back to the industry but also as your own recruiting pipeline of ambitious, interested young people.
3. Tell your HVACR success story in the community
We won’t be able to bridge the gap in employment in the HVACR industry without reaching out to young people and their parents to help share the benefits of a career in this industry. Careers in HVACR are projected to grow 15 percent in the next eight years, outpacing many other occupations. Take opportunities to speak at high school or even junior high career days or volunteering to share your career story to students, even those not considering technical school.
4. Company culture
Nearly 76 percent of HVACR applicants say company culture is a high priority in their job search. Does your business give young people the training and independence to make HVACR a successful career? Are you projecting a forward-thinking tech-savvy culture through your use of social media?
The next generation of HVACR professionals are looking for opportunities to use digital tools to solve problems. By 2018 U.S. consumers are expected to buy and install more than 50 million smart home devices, including Wi-Fi thermostats. Is your company culture supportive of tech-savvy newcomers who can help expand your offerings?
5. Recruit constantly
Don’t wait until you have a vacancy to start looking for prospective talent. The best candidates can go off the market within as little as 10 days. If you are out there speaking with young people, providing apprenticeships, and using social media and online job boards, you will always know about up-and-coming talent.
And don’t make the application process cumbersome. Sixty percent of candidates have quit an application process because it took too long.
Get out and recruit
We have well-paying jobs that offer little college debt, nationwide opportunities, and the chance to become your own boss—in a way it’s surprising that we face a shortage of professionals.
All of us need to get out to share the message of the tremendous opportunities of this industry.
Becky Hoelscher is Chairman of the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), an active member of ACCA and PHCC and is Director of AC Aftermarket Sales for Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions.
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