Don Frendberg“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

In the process of contemplating retirement, I decided if I were to do so, I wanted to give something back to the HVACR industry, which has been tremendously generous to me for virtually all of my working career.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved in an undertaking of which I am very passionate and that allows me the opportunity to do something that will generate a positive long-term return for our industry. As executive director of the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation, I am able to direct an industrywide effort to raise awareness of the importance of our industry and the excellent career opportunities it provides to men and women.

As you know, there is a major shortage of skilled workers in virtually every occupation throughout the country. In our industry alone, the U.S. Dept. of Labor predicts the employment of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers will grow 34 percent from 2010 to 2020, a rate much faster than the average of all occupations1. That amounts to an estimated 90,300 new jobs that we will need just to offset a maturing work force and industry expansion as a result of aging equipment replacement, maintenance and energy efficiency mandates.

nfortunately, the supply of workers coming out of apprenticeship programs and career and technical schools will only marginally offset the demand for mechanics. If one extrapolates the demand for mechanics to all positions in our industry, it’s quite apparent we are facing some critical work force issues.

Last year, eight industry association executives, who had been meeting informally as the HVACR Industry Alliance, recognized the work force challenge and set about to combine the efforts of the various associations under a single organization. To that end, they formed the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation, incorporated and registered as a nonprofit. The following sustaining members of the foundation associations have graciously provided the funds to get the operation underway: Air Conditioning Contractors of America; Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Air Movement and Control Association; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers; Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International; Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada; Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

The foundation’s mission is to lead an industry effort to develop and promote educational projects, programs and partnerships to attract committed and skilled employees to a career in HVACR. To accomplish this, we must raise awareness of the HVACR industry and the importance it plays in daily life and create interest in pursuing HVACR as an attractive and profitable career choice. The process is multifaceted with the need to develop a brand identity for the foundation in the industry and with federal and state education and labor agencies and secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. Additionally, there are multiple target groups that need to be apprised of the career opportunities in HVACR. Those groups include students, parents, school counselors and administrators, government agencies, military veterans, the unemployed and the under-employed.

The HVACR industry has done a fantastic job of convincing everyone that they cannot live without air conditioning but, unfortunately, a poor job of educating the public about the critical nature of what we do and the career opportunities. That educational process is underway and will eventually involve many industry volunteers speaking at schools and career fairs about their HVACR work and career experiences. If you are aware of secondary or post-secondary schools or other organizations that would benefit from knowing more about careers in our industry, we will provide collateral materials such as brochures, slide presentations and videos and assist in locating an industry speaker.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about the industry effort, but in the meantime, I encourage you to visit the foundation website at www.careersinhvacr.org, or contact me directly.

Ciao Baby, Don Frendberg 1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,�Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers.