It’s soapbox time, again. One of my hot buttons is the HVAC technician shortage. Case-in-point: I was having breakfast recently with a commercial contractor friend of mine. We meet somewhat irregularly to catch up on things and talk about the industry. On this particular morning our discussion steered toward the problem of finding decent field people.

We talked about the shortage being a societal problem requiring educational reform and a revamping of the federal funding systems. These systems pour money into public schools with the goal of producing high school graduates who then attend four-year colleges.

“It’s time some organization puts their money where their mouth is and comes up with a plan to attract young people into this industry,” my friend said in exasperation. And that is when I told him about a little project that Contracting Business was preparing to launch this year.

That project is called La Gua Para Tcnicos (The Spanish Guide for Technicians), and it is a new magazine targeting Spanish-speaking service and installation technicians either currently employed in our industry, or who are thinking about making their careers here.

La Gua Para Tcnicos?” My contractor friend seemed intrigued. I explained to him that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanics are projected to make up 34% of the labor force in the U.S. by 2014. I also pointed out that the Bureau reports that by the same year, the technician shortage will reach acute levels, with thousands of companies unable to find the talent they need to install and service mechanical systems across America.

So our idea was to create a publication, written in Spanish, to provide information on certification, safety, licensing, as well as service and installation tips, available training and much more. It is designed to help Hispanic HVACR and plumbing technicians take advantage of upcoming opportunities in the industry, as well as attracting other Hispanics.

Will this publication end the technician shortage? I doubt it. That would require an industrywide effort on a multitude of levels to promote the HVACR and plumbing trades as excellent, financially viable alternatives to college-based careers. Then, of course, we have to convince the government that it’s equally important to work in the trades as it is to go to college, and hope they change their public school funding policies.

However, this our attempt to put our money where our mouth is. The first issue of La Gua Para Tcnicos will hit the streets in March 2007.

I told my contractor friend that if he had any Hispanic field techs in his employ, he should consider signing them up to receive this publication. In fact, the same holds true for every contractor in America . If you have Hispanic field technicians, this magazine is ideal for them. To sign them up, just drop an email to our circulation manager, Antoinette Sanchez at asanchez@penton.com.

Let’s start 2007 by taking positive steps to re-creating our industry so that it’s attractive to young people across the country. La Gua Para Tcnicos is our first step.

Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?