National Signing Day, or National Letter of Intent Day as it is known in some circles, is a noteworthy one. Not only is it noteworthy for the student athlete, but it is also a big day for their parents, their coaches, and anyone else who has played a significant role in helping the student athlete with this achievement. For those who may not be familiar with what this is, National Signing Day is the day when high school sports players publicly pledge their allegiance to specific universities. What does this have to do with the HVAC industry?
I refer you to the ACH&R news article in the June 19 edition, written by Nick Kostora. Nick’s article highlights the brainchild of Clark Coco, Dean of Washburn University Institute of Technology in Topeka, Kansas. Clark was looking for an “out-of-the-box” way to get kids interested in the skilled trades that had not been tried before. Now in its fourth year, National Technical Letter of Intent Signing Day is helping thousands of students achieve their moments of glory in more than 40 schools across the country. National Signing Day events have been held at schools in Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama, Minnesota, and Oklahoma.
National Signing Day had a remarkable impact on Washburn. According to Coco, “When I got here, we were referred to as a tired and outdated facility. We didn’t wear uniforms, we weren’t associated with NC3, (National Coalition of Certification Centers) there were weeds in the sidewalks etc. Luckily, people really bought into what we were doing. The school has seen 45% growth in enrollment over the past five years.”
Numerous articles have been, and continue to be written about the need for new talent coming into the industry. This seems to represent an idea that you can latch onto in your local community. Local ACCA chapters could set this up with local high schools and trade schools for example. It is often said the HVAC industry is not very glamorous, but this is certainly an idea that can help it seem more so in the eyes of a young person. It can help elevate the idea of going into the trades as a realistic alternative to college. The shortage of skilled workers could very well become the biggest impediment to growth for companies in the HVAC industry in the very near future. A recent article in BISNOW stated that 74% of construction companies in Texas say they are having a hard time hiring carpenters, electricians or plumbers. Not only that, the HVAC industry is aging far more than other industries, meaning the average age of HVAC trade workers is older than the national average for other industries. Ideas like this could very well represent part of the solution to this growing threat.
Countering a Major Threat to the HVAC Industry
Photo courtesy of The Topeka Capital Journal