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Bringing the Need for Qualified Technicians Into Focus on National STEM Day

benpicker Ben Picker | Product Manager – Copeland Condensing Units

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

National STEM Day is Nov. 8. From Emerson’s perspective, it’s a day to recognize the importance of science, technology, engineering and math — not only in our education curriculum, but also in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industries.

Bringing the Need for Qualified Technicians Into Focus on National STEM Day

Bringing the Need for Qualified Technicians Into Focus on National STEM Day

With the commercial refrigeration industry evolving to utilize more sophisticated technologies, technician jobs are becoming more technological than mechanical — and becoming viable options for those pursuing a STEM career path. A new workforce recruitment initiative by the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) is addressing the technician shortage head-on via a new full-length documentary.

HVACR supply chain feeling the impacts

The impacts of the service technician shortage are being felt throughout the HVACR supply chain. While the vast majority of HVACR contracting business owners today are actively looking for technicians, this pain has far-reaching consequences — from wholesaler distributors to end users, owners and operators. Whether you’re operating a supermarket, c-store, restaurant or virtually any facility that has HVACR needs, the lack of qualified technicians is making it increasingly difficult to find reliable sources for new installations, routine servicing or emergency repairs.

And while industry stakeholders have been sounding the alarms for nearly a decade, it’s a problem that’s not going away. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVACR mechanic and installer jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 15 percent nationwide through 2026.

A perfect storm of market trends, technological advancements and demographic changes are compounding the issue. This is especially true in refrigeration, where shifting store formats and environmental regulations have led to a proliferation of system types. These systems are introducing connected technologies, electronics and alternative refrigerants, many of which represent completely new servicing procedures. As the industry struggles to attract a new generation of recruits, many of our current service technicians are scrambling to keep pace with these system changes, or are planning for retirement.

HARDI releases “Hot Commodity”

The goal of HARDI’s new workforce recruitment initiative is to spread awareness of the HVACR wholesale distribution industry to the younger generation and encourage these individuals to pursue an HVACR career path. To spearhead this effort, HARDI is releasing a documentary that exemplifies their mission and explores the many HVACR-related career opportunities.

While the full-length film has yet to be released, HARDI is currently promoting a short trailer of the documentary. As one of the professionals featured in the film states, now’s the time “for the younger generation to carry the ball” forward.

The themes presented in the documentary include:

  • Alternative to traditional college — Many high school students are encouraged to attend college, even if it’s not necessarily the best fit. Vocational and technical schools offer an alternative to traditional college, while allowing attendees to begin earning a living as they learn.
  • Financial viability — With a median annual salary of $47,080, HVACR technician profession earnings are significantly higher than other occupations, even though the job doesn’t require a four-year degree. As one of the contractors in the film explained, it’s possible for service technicians with 10 years of experience to earn as much $100K per year. Increased demand for these jobs is driving salaries upward.
  • Variety of career paths — Whether you’re coming out of high school, or college, or seeking a career change, there are multiple opportunities and positions to explore. For example, the film mentions a microbiologist who sought a career change offering the potential to achieve ideal indoor air quality.
  • Changing perceptions — The perception of working in a dirty, dark and dangerous environment is changing. The next generation of HVACR technicians will work with rapidly changing, emerging technologies, electronics, computers and more.
  • Evergreen market — Achieving ideal air quality and reliable refrigeration in a dynamic market is an evergreen opportunity. As a result, HVACR professions are among the most sustainable across all occupations.

 

As a HARDI supporter and long-time champion of this cause, Emerson will continue to do its part to raise awareness of the technician shortage facing our industry. Our Educational Services group frequently partners with vocational and technical schools to donate equipment, offer training and career advice, and even judge HVACR-related competitions. Look for the full HARDI documentary to be released later this year.

Emerson Impacts Generations of Women in STEM

Across Asia Pacific, women are chronically under-represented in careers based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Emerson has set out to change this with its global Women in STEM Program that’s aimed at helping more women to not only pursue a STEM education but also have successful careers afterwards.

While some countries boast high proportions of women graduating in STEM subjects, their progress into the workforce is challenged. In Japan and Korea, for example, as few as 5% and 10% respectively of engineering jobs are held by women. In a region where technology and innovation are the key drivers of prosperity, the lack of women in STEM is a missed opportunity at best, and at worst, an appalling waste of the region’s talent.

As one of the world’s pre-eminent technology and engineering companies, Emerson recognizes that education and careers for women in STEM will have a long-term benefit for the competitiveness of its business, and for the societies in which it operates.

This is why the Women in STEM Program aims to attract, develop, and retain the best women
in STEM-related roles to enhance diversity of ideas and approaches for the benefit of our customers and to fully deliver on our “Consider it Solved” promise. The program supports generations of women at all stages of their careers, from the most senior executives to the youngest schoolchildren just beginning to think of their futures.

“There should be no limits to the aspirations of young women leaders in Emerson,” said Vidya Ramnath, President of Middle East and Africa, who’s also a sponsor for the Women in STEM initiative in Asia.

“We need to be there as a unit to show women that there are no walls to advancing and achieving.”

Moving the needle

At Emerson, the Women in STEM Program is guided by three main prongs:

  • Attract: To inspire girls to pursue STEM subjects and careers, and to attract the best women in STEM to Emerson.
  • Develop: To provide an environment and opportunities to develop leadership skills as well as to elevate visibility for women in STEM-related roles
  • Retain: To create an inclusive connected community where women in STEM feel supported and a sense of belonging throughout Emerson, and to provide a platform to highlight women in STEM as role models across One Emerson

Ultimately, the main goals are to recruit new female employees into STEM-related roles, increase the percentage of women in leadership and to reduce the attrition of women.

In Asia, the program was rolled out towards the last quarter of 2017, which cut across two main business units, dozens of lines of business, and more than 45 individual facilities in 15 countries. To enable effective implementation, Emerson formed a regional board comprising members across the region and business units, then recruited members organized into location-specific chapters, which are consolidated into 12 regions.

As the initiative gained steam across the continent, it also added to the global momentum. The number of members and local chapters last year almost doubled from 2017, with membership going from 1,733 to 3,135 and the number of local chapters increasing from 25 to 47. Similarly, the number of regional events more than doubled from 292 to 670.

Meanwhile, Emerson was making waves externally too. Some 150 Emerson employees attended WE18, the world’s largest conference for women engineers, where we received five Society of Women Engineers awards. We also went up 26 places to be named the Top 15 Employer for Women in STEM by Woman Engineer 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Advancing the cause

Around the world, the Women in STEM group runs a wide gamut of activities to attract, develop and retain female talent. They range from professional development and networking socials to youth and university outreach. In Asia, the group touched the lives of more than 7,200 women and men through 3,000 events last year.

Professional Development

These are mainly live events and webinars aimed at sharing management and development skills for women in STEM-related positions throughout the company. Widad Haddad, vice president and general manager, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon, Emerson Automation Solutions, sees her role in the Diversity and Inclusion Council as not only to bring knowledge to women at Emerson but also to ensure there’s a balance in the program.

“For example, if we hold a seminar on how to say ‘No’ and if we invite only women, are we implying that only women don’t know how to say ‘No’?” said the only executive woman among 1,100 employees in her region. “Where topics are relevant to both genders, we actually open the events to the men too.”

More than 740 professional development events were conducted in Asia last year including:

A debate competition in Suzhou, CHINA attracted more than 100 participants to discuss project communication, career development and work-life balance. Developed women engineers in their leadership journey but also advocated for inclusion by discussing topics that are sometimes considered taboo.

A professional development and networking day was held in conjunction with the Society of Women Engineers in Pune, INDIA. Forty participants drawn from inside and outside Emerson met to share a day of professional development and networking with fellow STEM professionals, hosted at Emerson’s location in Pune.

Some 75 Emerson employees in THAILAND across Bangkok and Rayong had clearer insights on career growth from a series of talks given by a vice president.

A regional Leadership Talk Series leverages Emerson female executives’ work travel schedules to give talks to local Women in STEM groups whenever they travel. This is especially important in offices that may not have a senior female leader as a role model. Topics range from career experience, personal branding to managing conflict, and these meetings have so far attracted more than 800 participants.

Networking

These social events enable women at Emerson to make connections across functions and business units. For Jacqueline Stidolph, Lifecycle Services Engineer, Western Australia, Emerson Automation Solutions, this is especially important as she largely works on Prelude, the world’s largest floating liquefied natural gas platform.

“I work offshore most of the time, so joining networking events is definitely beneficial,” she explained.

More than 250 networking/social activities were held in Asia last year. Examples included:

Emerson partnered with Women in Energy Asia to host a digital transformation event at the Emerson Solutions Center in SINGAPORE. The event attracted 80 participants and showed how women and technology impact the energy industry.

Physical fitness events around the region empower women to take hold of their physical and mental health with activities like yoga to boxing. Feedback has been extremely positive with women saying they would never have tried some of the activities if not for Women in STEM.

Youth Outreach

To counter traditional preconceptions and prejudices, the group identifies opportunities to inspire younger girls about STEM, to seed future generations of women engineers. These could be outreach activities at schools or “We Love STEM” events held at Emerson offices for employees’ children.

Last year, almost a thousand events were held, such as:

Women in STEM organized an outreach event to secondary school students in HONG KONG, enabling children to see firsthand the digital transformation in the control room, and experience how engineers are trained using virtual reality.

Emerson partnered with Girl Scouts of the Philippines to run the Cebu National Encampment event for 600 girls nationwide aged 9-14. Seven in 10 of the children indicated they are likely to consider a STEM course after the event.

At a We Love STEM event for employees’ families held by Emerson KOREA at the newly opened Korea Solutions Center, more than 70 children learned how assemble robots and spinning tops, sparking an early-age interest in STEM.

University Outreach

These efforts focus on engagement with faculty, students and alumni at key universities across the region to present and promote career options in STEM. The Women in STEM group held almost 1,200 events last year, including partnering with over 20 universities to give tours of our facilities/technology centers, recruit female STEM majors, participate in “Day with Industry” events, and share the experience of being an engineer.

Con Alcoriza, an Emerson scholar studying mechanical engineering at Bulacan State University in the Philippines, has been inspired by her interactions with women engineers at the company.

“Having an Emerson scholarship is not just about financial help, but my mentors at Emerson support us and guide us,” said the fifth-year student. “I see these very successful women engineers at Emerson and I wish to be one someday.

“What boys can do, I can do too. Not because I’m a girl but because I am me. I see myself pursuing my career in Emerson and I know I have to work hard and strive hard for what I want.”

 

 

Five Prestigious Reasons to Become an HVACR Apprentice

BobLabbett_Blog Bob Labbett | V.P. – Aftermarket Distribution, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

As National Apprenticeship Week (March 4–8, 2019) once again approaches, the critical shortage of qualified HVACR technicians within the U.S. continues with an estimated industry shortfall of 118,000 technicians by the year 2022. Recruiting apprentice HVACR techs remains as challenging as ever, because students with an aptitude for technical trades are not being encouraged to pursue vocational or technical training. Students need to be convinced that an HVACR career path is a viable alternative to a four-year college degree, offering them a chance to work on new and emerging technologies in meaningful careers that contribute to society.

What’s stopping them? One is the perception among American high school students that a college degree is more valuable and prestigious than an apprenticeship and a fast track to a career. The other is that we collectively as an industry are not adequately presenting them options. Here are five great reasons for a high school student to consider becoming an HVACR apprentice.

  1. College is more popular — and more expensive — than ever.

At least two-thirds of the high school class of 2020 intend to go to college; this represents the highest rate of secondary education attendance in U.S. history. They and their parents know that college is getting more expensive, while financial aid is shrinking. The average student graduates with an average of $40,000 in student loan debt just as they’re about to begin looking for an entry-level job. What isn’t as well-known is that about half of all college students drop out without earning a degree — and with no real job skills. Yet schools, guidance counselors and peers continue to push students straight to college.

  1. There is an alternative: A fast start — with no debt.

When many “traditional” students are just starting their sophomore year in college, some of their high school friends will be beginning their careers as HVACR apprentices with average entry-level salaries ranging from $47,000–$60,000 a year, depending on skill set. It’s a matter of supply and demand, and being an HVACR tech is a vocation in extremely high demand. It’s time high school guidance counselors had information about alternative apprenticeships on hand.

  1. An apprenticeship is a wise path for students who can use their heads — and their hands.

A bright student with some high school courses in math and/or physics can learn to read a blueprint and earn an HVACR apprentice certificate at a community college in six months to a year, at little or no cost and with no student debt. Others can even start straight out of high school, getting paid while earning their certificate on the job. In an industry that needs 118,000 new HVACR apprentice technicians, their certificates mean they are almost certain to get job offers from almost any company to which they apply. As an apprentice, their future career tracks are limited only by their ambition and drive (or lack thereof).

  1. An apprenticeship is a top-notch education.

An HVACR tech certificate may not sound as glamorous as a college degree. But four years of on-the-job training in a technical field are easily the equivalent of a four-year academic degree. HVACR techs are responsible for maintaining healthy environments at major medical centers. They work in the aerospace industry and in high-tech corporations. HVACR techs know how to maintain and repair 12-ton coolers, heat pumps, furnaces, ultralow-temperature freezers and refrigerators; they can manage the electronic systems that connect them; and they can run the software and internet programs that monitor and control them. HVACR techs work with advanced technologies, doing essential work that significantly affects people’s lives.

  1. They’re wanted.

The HVACR industry is working with educators, unions and contractor organizations to make it even easier to earn apprentice certification, with more online courses, night classes and technically advanced curriculums to create valuable on-the-job training. Even the federal government has stepped in, with the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act providing funds for students who are looking for more career-oriented education after high school.

 

Five Reasons Why We <3 STEM Every Day

Ed_McKiernan Ed McKiernan | President, Cold Chain, Electronics & Solutions

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Five Reasons Why We STEM Every Day

Today is National STEM Day. For those who may not know, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a national coalition aimed at preserving America’s place as a global technological leader by focusing on educational principles that help students learn and excel in those four subjects. While we join in today’s celebration, STEM is a continual, dedicated area of focus at Emerson. You might even say it’s in our DNA.

So, on this day, we’d like to take a look at why STEM is important to the futures of our children, company and country.

  1. Educational empowerment — first and foremost, STEM is about empowering our children to overcome the stigmas often associated with its curriculum — from being too complex to being reserved only for the academically exceptional — while inspiring interest in STEM careers. Doing so will require STEM activities to be more accessible, engaging and mainstream. Simply put: it means making STEM cool again.
  2. Closing the gender gap — today less than 50 percent of females are encouraged to pursue STEM careers. To ensure equal career opportunities and earning potentials, we need to inspire their interest in STEM from a young age and provide pathways that lead to long STEM careers.
  3. Technological transformation — in an era where technology is transforming nearly every aspect of our lives, STEM skills are more relevant than ever. Nowhere is this more evident than in the HVAC&R industries. Service technician jobs are becoming more technological than mechanical; architectures that drive these systems are rapidly changing; and electronics and digital controls are permeating every aspect of their operations.
  4. More data = more science — an abundance of data is changing the way systems (such as HVAC&R) are maintained, operated and optimized. This brings the role of data scientists to the forefront with their abilities to write the algorithms that process this data, detect trends and anomalies, and even predict issues before they happen.
  5. Making up lost groundthere’s no question that the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in STEM-related skillsets and disciplines. It’s time to bring these competencies and spirit of innovation back to our shores to help usher in the next generation of technical know-how in an increasingly connected, global economy.

Emerson has been a champion of the STEM program for many years, so National STEM Day holds a special place in our hearts. We believe STEM is good not only for our children’s development, but also the prosperity of our country. In recent years, we’ve seen the rapid advancement of technology in our shared industries, and there’s no sign of this pace slowing down in the foreseeable future. STEM is vital in ensuring that the U.S. continues to set this pace and preserve our place at the global technological table.

A Carnival of Fun and Learning for Emerson’s We <3 STEM Kids Day in Hong Kong

Lieny Jang | Marketing Director, Asia-Pacific

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Continuing the legacy of Emerson’s global commitment to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, our team in Hong Kong recently hosted a We <3 STEM Kids Day for our employees and their children.

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Dubbed as the STEM Carnival, kids aged 2 to 16 years old participated in an exciting series of STEM-themed games and activities together with their parents. The games included the Dash Robot Coding Challenge where kids learned how to control a robot through coding and raced against each other; the Little Bits Bubblebot Challenge where they were taught about the basics of electrical circuits; and an InSinkErator-themed mobile app game that showed the inner workings of a food waste disposer. There was also a photo booth where kids can have their picture taken dressed in their STEM-themed costumes like an engineer, a pilot, or a doctor.

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STEM Days are so memorable for both Emerson employees and our kids. The kids get to see where mom and dad work and the impact they are making to societies. They are so proud and highly inspired by their parents, who are their most important role models

Through STEM Day events, we hope to continually inspire and empower the next generation of innovators by making science, technology, engineering and math more fun and accessible.

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