Blending Work and Learning to Fill the Growing Employment Gap
With temperatures dropping well below freezing throughout this winter, functioning heating systems are a necessity, and when they break, it’s a heating and ventilation technician who has to fix them. But as this field’s workforce ages, there are very few skilled young people to fill in the gaps. At H&H Service Company, summer means a workshop floor filled with dozens of units in need of repair. But it’s not just about performing maintenance on all of this equipment—it’s about keeping a finger on the pulse of a changing industry.
“There’s a lot more that goes into the trades today with advancements made in the technology that operates various types of equipment,” said Dave Hlatky, president of H&H Service Company. “A large number of jobs can be handled remotely by using a computer to access the control boards on various types of equipment.”
The value for a student learning a trade comes in their experience with current technology. At CPAVTS, students earn hands-on experience with the latest equipment available in their industry, and the industry credentials they gain in the process work in tandem to give them an edge when seeking employment. In fact, four of the employees at H&H Service Company are graduates from CPAVTS!
Students can supplement their skills by learning advanced techniques through post-secondary education—some even pursue a business-related path to gain the training needed to be a supervisor. But regardless of the trade or the career path a student chooses, there’s always the opportunity to help others.
“It’s not just working in the shop diagnosing a broken air conditioner—it’s going out to the community and fixing real problems for real people,” said Mr. Hlatky.
The skilled trades are more in-demand than ever, and it’s not just the HVAC industry going through this dilemma: Most companies simply can’t hire new employees fast enough. Even if a student chooses to go to college, the skills they learn in the HVAC program at CPAVTS can earn them a job that can pay their tuition while they study.
“I’m planning to join an apprenticeship and continue school through that company at HACC,” said Jacob, a student in the HVAC program at CPAVTS. “I’ll do this for about 4-5 years, which will make me a certified journeyman. You can also do this sort of thing at college.”
The education provided through a career and technical school are absolutely crucial to maintaining the machines and devices that run our modern society. Without these skilled workers, the high-tech equipment used in doctor’s offices, factories, and every other part of daily life would fall into disrepair.
“Not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher,” said Mr. Pokrivka, instructor of CPAVTS’s HVAC program. “Students can continue their education at college and increase their desirability to employers, but it’s important that we get good workers into these trades.”