Closing the Gap: Investing in the Future of the HVAC Trade
By Lisa Zierfuss
It’s evident everywhere – in the headlines, in schools, and especially in businesses: The skilled trades gap is taking a toll on HVAC and other industries. By 2020, an estimated 31 million* skilled trades positions will be left vacant by Baby Boomers retiring and not enough new trade-educated technicians with the skills needed to take their place. With this major shortage looming within the near future, it’s critical for businesses and educators to take action and educate people on the rewarding career opportunities in HVAC.
In addition to the challenges of generating interest in HVAC and other skilled trades, the costs of receiving a trade education can be high, making it challenging for employers to find certified and trade-educated replacements for retirees. That’s why Shurtape Technologies, LLC, a leading manufacturer and marketer of pressure-sensitive tapes, introduced Mission: HVAC: Educating for Success, a scholarship program that is designed to help support the next generation of HVAC students. Now, the company is searching for HVAC students – in addition to trade school programs – to participate in the program’s fifth year.
In keeping with tradition from the previous four years of the program, up to three students – selected via an application process open to students from technical schools nationwide – will be given 10 HVAC-themed missions designed to help them build their networks and grow in their knowledge of the industry. Assignments from past years have included doing research on HVAC trends, conducting interviews with their classroom instructors to get their perspectives on the challenges of the field, and sharing their own experiences as they study and practice HVAC skills. No matter the mission, each student will compile their findings into blog posts that will be shared on Shurtape’s education-focused website, TapeUniversity.com. The reward for their hard work? $5,000 to put toward the cost of their education.
So far, over $50,000 has been awarded to HVAC students nationwide, and this year, Shurtape is raising the stakes even more. For the first time, the company is expanding Mission: HVAC to trade schools, offering the chance for HVAC educators to apply on behalf of their HVAC program to receive $5,000 to put toward either the tools, technology, or training their school needs to help students be successful. Whether the need is for fully stocked toolboxes, modern equipment to practice on, or additional scholarships and training opportunities, two trade schools or technical programs will be selected to receive their own $5,000 “scholarship.” Representatives from the selected schools will be asked to complete up to three of their own missions, providing commentary from an educator’s perspective on the HVAC industry.
“For five generations, Shurtape has been on a mission to provide solutions to the industry’s unmet needs,” said Lisa Zierfuss, product manager for HVAC/Building & Construction tapes at Shurtape. “Today, we’re on a mission to close the skilled trades gap by equipping the next generation of skilled HVAC professionals with the tool of a technical education. Five years ago, we saw the growing struggle in the industry to find skilled technicians to meet industry demands and created Mission: HVAC as a way to help combat the shortage. We are thrilled to expand the program in 2019 beyond students to the educators and trade schools that provide their training. By equipping these schools with the tools, technology, or training they need to be successful, we are investing in the future of the HVAC industry.”
As the labor shortage continues, an estimated 115,000 additional HVAC mechanic and installer positions will be unfilled by 2022*, creating both a major challenge for businesses that are already struggling to keep up with market demands for their services, and a huge opportunity for those who do step up to fill those positions. For them, getting an education in a trade sets them apart as an ideal candidate with little competition from other applicants. It also positions them for many opportunities to grow as professionals in the industry, leading to career advancement, competitive salaries, and long-term job security – on top of having a fun career working with their hands.
HVAC students interested in applying for the 2019 Mission: HVAC program can submit their application online at Shurtape.com/MissionHVAC. Instructors can apply on behalf of their trade school at Shurtape.com/MissionHVAC/TradeSchool. The application period for both programs is open now through February 9, 2019.
Learn more about Mission: HVAC and check out innovative tape solutions for HVAC at Shurtape’s booth, #B-835 at the 2019 AHR Expo, or by visiting Shurtape.com.
About the Author
Lisa Zierfuss serves as the Product Manager for HVAC and Building & Construction tapes at Shurtape Technologies, LLC. In this role, she tackles the ongoing product development, project management and market research for the company’s pressure-sensitive tape solutions that serve the HVAC, remodeling and abatement, and general construction markets. Lisa manages the Mission: HVAC Educating for Success program that supports HVAC students through scholarships. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts.