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Four Keys to Addressing the Technician Shortage

BobLabbett_Blog Bob Labbett | V.P., Communications & Channel Marketing, Refrigeration

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes the Contractor Connection column in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled Answering the Call.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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It’s estimated that 115,000 HVACR technicians will be needed by 2022 to fill industry jobs. At our latest E360 Forum in Tucson, Ariz., Emerson hosted a half-day symposium entitled “Industry Challenge: Addressing the Technician Shortage.” The meeting assembled nearly 50 contractors, wholesalers, and Emerson leadership team members to take the first steps toward forming a consensus on how to solve this critical technician shortage. Meeting participants were divided into four group ideation sessions that focused on the key aspects of the challenge.

A common theme emerged as each group then presented its insights: the importance of appealing to the current field of job market entrants. Specifically, they identified career attributes that the millennial generation values most, including:

  • The desire to have a meaningful career that contributes to the betterment of society
  • The preference for working with modern technology
  • The importance of selecting a career path that has both long-term security and growth potential

With these drivers in mind, the groups presented four keys for addressing this shortage:

  1. Awareness — because vocational occupations are often overlooked in today’s culture, students with an aptitude for technical trades are not encouraged to pursue vocational or technical training. To overcome this trend, students and faculty need to be convinced that this career path is a viable alternative to a four-year college degree.
  2. Recruitment — engaging millennials requires appealing to their unique sensibilities, including their preference for working with new and emerging technologies, or careers that have a meaningful societal contribution. Studying to become an HVACR technician fulfills these needs while ultimately providing competitive compensation, job security, career growth and low competition.
  3. Training — to ease the process of earning a certification, schools should make training classes more convenient (via online or evening classes) and more affordable. As important, the curriculum should be kept current to cover the latest technologies, refrigerants, and equipment.
  4. Retention — attracting and retaining students requires making them aware of the bigger purpose and meaning the job provides. It also means helping them to achieve proper work-life balance and charting a path for true career progression.

It’s important to remember that turning the tide on the technician shortage will not happen overnight. In the meantime, we need stakeholder participation and engagement to maintain awareness of the issue and look for solutions in our day-to-day activities. To contribute to this important effort, please email the Emerson team at e360.climate@emerson.com.

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