For the past 2 years I have been a Faculty Member for the Online Training Organization HVACRedu.net. I could not be prouder of being associated with this organization. My co-workers are great!
As a veteran of the HVAC Industry with over 35 years in the classroom in many different roles, I am now committed to providing training in an online environment. Even though I have been involved with online HVAC training for a couple of years, my interest in this actually goes back about 10 years. This interest coincides with the ‘Gray Tsunami’ of baby-boomer workforce retirements (myself included).
Here are the facts:
- The statistics say that we will need many thousands of new technicians in the next few years.
- Many HVAC Instructors will retire within the next few years.
- For those working in the field already, it is too expensive and time consuming to travel for training. For example, if a one week class costs $1500 and the travel costs are $1500, the total cost is then $3000 for ONE technician. Indirect costs include shift or work coverage, overtime, etc. In this instance the firm can only afford to send a few technicians, limiting the impact of the available training. When the workforce is already strained to the limit it is difficult to justify the absence of a technician for an extra week or more.
Due to multiple retirements, a technician with little experience is often quickly thrust into a more senior role, often in a ‘sink or swim’ situation. Their skills need to be upgraded in a less expensive, less time consuming manner.
My reasons for being an enthusiastic advocate of online HVAC Training are as follows:
For new technicians coming into the industry:
- It is a great way to train new students in the huge numbers needed. We need to ask ourselves if we have the classroom capacity needed and are the schools in the right geographical locations to train a large number of incoming students that will be needed. Or will we be creating new programs all across the US to serve these new technicians? These are all valid questions with uncertain answers.
- A blended format of both online and classroom format can be used to provide both the classroom training and also the hands-on skills practice and skills needed.
- For Vocational School Programs, it is a great method to teach additional subjects.
- HVAC programs are commonly strapped for time in their program. They may not be able to cover all of the topics needed in today’s fast changing HVAC industry. Also, individual instructors may not have background or experience in a specific part of the industry. Online training is a perfect platform to deliver those specific topics in a simple, inexpensive format.
For those already in the workforce:
- It is the only way to teach specific technical topics to the workforce in a way that makes sense financially and timewise.
- As mentioned, those already working need to learn specific skills about their equipment and their buildings.
- The workforce is often geographically scattered, teaching online is a great way to bring them together on specific technical topics.
- It is the only way to teach older systems that are still installed but no longer supporter by manufacturers.
- A common thought in industry is that ‘Factory Training’ is equally available for all products. While somewhat true of new equipment, factory support and technical training falls by the wayside pretty quickly the older the equipment becomes.
In general terms:
- It is the best way to capture ‘Best Practices’ from acknowledged industry experts.
- Online training is a fantastic way to capture for all time the wisdom of industry experts (giants, really) who have decades of insight into HVAC systems. Their expertise can then be shared with thousands of technicians, not just those with enough money to pay for the class and related travel expenses.
- The online lessons can be recorded, preserving and benefiting future technicians even after the instructor is retired.
On a personal note, as a long time classroom instructor in many different roles, I want to make the maximum impact in the careers and lives of as many students as I can. Like many of my fellow instructors, early in my career many of the old timers took the time to teach me the tricks of the trade. They are all gone now, but as I move towards the end of my career I feel an obligation to honor them by passing these tricks along to as many as I can. There is simply no better way to do this than by performing online training. Since the online lessons that I teach are recorded, they will be my legacy to thousands of future technicians and the families that they support, and are a way to give back to an industry that has been so good to me in so many ways.