|Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
Summertime has arrived, bringing with it warmer temperatures and sunshine. The kids are home from school. Vacations are in the works. Everyone seems to be in a better mood — until your air conditioning unit fails, causing both temperatures and tensions to rise in the house.
Situations like this happen to everyone at some point in their lives and help to remind us that our homes, businesses, etc. aren’t cooled by some form of magic; they’re cooled by a piece of machinery that needs to be installed and, in cases like this, fixed by an HVAC technician.
It’s easy to take things like air conditioning for granted. But it only takes one incident, like the one mentioned above, to bring us back down to Earth and help us appreciate not only the advancement of cooling technology but the HVAC technicians who help keep the AC running when we need it the most.
It’s crucial on this National HVAC Tech Day that we appreciate everything that HVAC technicians do to make our lives a little more comfortable. It is also an opportunity to address the elephant in the room regarding an alarming national trend: the industry’s HVACR technician shortage.
This problem is particularly concerning in the field of commercial refrigeration, where an aging workforce with tribal knowledge of more complex refrigeration systems threatens to leave a vacuum of qualified service technicians. It is estimated that by 2022, the U.S. will need 115,000 HVACR technicians to fill industry jobs.
One solution that we’ve discussed at length is encouraging our nation’s youth to take advantage of apprenticeship programs. These programs are typically funded by outside resources, eliminating student loans. In addition, due to the shortage, students are essentially guaranteed employment and a fast track to leadership upon finishing their apprenticeship program.
Conversely, for those students taking the traditional college education route, there are more than 44 million student loan borrowers, with each accumulating an average debt of $37,1721 — with no guarantee of a job or steady salary upon graduation.
The technician shortage reminds us on National HVAC Tech Day how important this vocation is. Take the time to thank a technician for their hard work and dedication in a rather underappreciated industry. It’s also a good day to raise awareness among younger students seeking an alternative to a four-year degree who desire job security and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.