Potential Solution #1: Attract a Younger Generation of Eager Learners
Where would the manufacturing workforce be without Baby Boomers? As of 2017, the Baby Boomer generation made up the majority of skilled trades workers, but that number is expected to drop to 40-percent by 2022. While workers grow older and retire in every job worldwide, the manufacturing industry – especially HVAC/R – is feeling the crunch the most.
That’s why it’s imperative for the HVAC/R industry to attract a younger generation of learners to re-energize the sector. And the one thing that, ironically, could help attract younger workers to that career field is the one thing older workers worried about: technology.
For example, students interested in IT might notice an ideal career pathway within the HVAC/R sector. Thanks to the popularity of working with computers in creating more IT professionals, the new Smart technologies being utilized in HVAC and manufacturing create a perfect fit for an individual with IT skills.
Smart technology is making its way into the HVAC/R industry, which will open the door for a variety of new jobs that have never been seen before. These positions will help maintain and troubleshoot smart HVAC/R devices to make a more energy-efficient, customizable user experience.
Setting up programs with two- and four-year colleges, as well as with local businesses for apprenticeships, would help attract younger talent pools that are eager to show off their skillset.
Potential Solution #2: Change the Narrative on Trade-Based Careers
Hollywood has done Industry and Manufacturing no favors in its portrayal of these sectors in movies and television shows. Typically, their work spaces are grimy, dimly-lit warehouses that feature a tough, dirty collection of lunch pail-carrying workers.
However what the directors and producers fail to show are the cloud-based monitoring and controls of a smart home’s HVAC/R system. Or they glaze over the part where smart sensors can use data mining to learn a customer’s habits, and adjust them automatically – unless it’s a horror flick, of course.
The fact is that HVAC/R is becoming a cutting-edge industry that utilizes the newest cloud-based technology to increase efficiency. Thanks to new environmental regulations, there is a growing demand for energy-efficient products and cleans units powered by solar or geothermal energy.
Needless to say, this isn’t your father’s HVAC/R, and that change-of-narrative should be well known to everyone, both inside and outside of the sector.
Potential Solution #3: Training (and Re-Training) Will Reign King for Employers
Finally, and perhaps most important, educating men and women about the intriguing opportunities in the HVAC/R industry is one of the most valuable steps toward solving the worker shortage. This includes providing the necessary training and certifications to help up-and-coming technicians stay current within an ever-changing industry, as well as offering classes on emerging technologies like IT to help prepare technicians for new Smart systems.
This training, though, would not only be useful for employees new to the field. With the amount of change on the horizon for the HVAC/R industry, even the most experienced workers will need refresher courses on how new technology works.
By offering in-house training, companies will have the opportunity to attract workers that may have overlooked industrial sectors in the past. Now, those that are changing careers, or have little-to-no experience in industry can be considered for unfilled positions, opening up a whole new set of prospective employees.
Re-training also allows those seasoned employees to get pointed training in the fields that their employers deem fit. So if a company needs someone who specializes in electronics, they can set-up a training program for those specific skills to be learned. Not only does it keep the employee working on their day-to-day tasks, but it also sets them up for future professional success.
Unlike apprenticeships and changing people’s opinions of industry, which are largely dependent of others, technical training is the one solution that an entire company can get behind to find success. It is also the only sure-fire way that the HVAC/R industry can begin to regain its footing and begin to close the skills gap.