By virtually all accounts, 2018 will be recorded as a good year for the HVAC industry. You are undoubtedly seeing that in your business as well. This growth is likely taxing your human resources, and in fact that is the case across the industry. According to a recent ACH&R news survey, 75% of firms replying planned to hire personnel in 2018. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the HVAC industry are expected to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026. At the same time that demand is increasing, many within the current workforce – people who are highly skilled – will be retiring during that time frame. Yet another study conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute predicts all this could result in 2 million unfulfilled jobs. It’s not hard to see that a train wreck is coming.
There is no silver bullet for this dilemma, the solution requires a multi-pronged effort across a number of areas. In order to attract workers to your business, your business must be attractive. Your wages need to be competitive and your company must be up to date with regard to technology, marketing and business practices. You need to have apprenticeships and internships available for prospective employees. Your firm should be talking with local technical and high schools to tell the story of your industry and your business, showing a clear picture of why both represent a clear alternative to the “college for all” mantra that students most often hear. These students clearly do not have an up to date image in their mind when it comes to considering the HVAC industry as a vocation. You can help by demonstrating your role in the development of smart homes and buildings, cloud-based monitoring and controls, and much more. By itself, this does not represent a solution to the problem, only the beginnings of a solution. What else is missing?
If you were asked to describe a great employee, you would probably describe a youthful looking, smartly dressed service technician – who is male. What’s missing is the other 50% of the population – females! At present, only 1.4% of the HVAC industry is comprised of females. Clearly there is an opportunity here. This opportunity extends far beyond the technical and high school students discussed in the paragraph above. Don’t forget about college students, especially female students majoring in STEM disciplines. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. All too often, these types of students are thought to only be candidates for manufacturers, but that does not have to be the case. There is no reason that women can’t enjoy a career within the contracting side of the industry, but like anyone else they must see that there is a future there. If you are not creating that path within your firm and demonstrating it in all you do, it’s time to reconsider. The myopic opinion of others when it comes to recruiting females into your business can very well be your competitive advantage!