Conditioned Air Association of Georgia Partners with Local Career College on Workforce Development
When Tucker Green took the reins as Executive Director for the Conditioned Air Association of Georgia (CAAG), he recognized the industry needed more than an infusion of talent. It needed new sources of talent and new approaches to developing it. The imminent threat of retirement by many HVAC professionals was only exacerbated by shortfall in labor supply during the pandemic. He knew the industry needed to take new action.
From past experiences, he also understood that employed technicians tend to be more loyal to companies that continually invest in their professional development. This insight was impressed upon him through his role as a member of his local school board, providing a unique appreciation for education and workforce development. His time at CAAG only reinforced the importance of continuous training and development opportunities.
When Altierus Career College—a nonprofit provider of career and technical education, including HVAC-R and HVAC-T—joined CAAG as a member in 2020, he saw a new opportunity. Altierus already had a history of proactively collaborating with employers and partners, but it had relatively low brand awareness compared to other schools. Green detected something unique about the school: an innovative approach to training with strong industry-based programming.
When Green visited Altierus’s Norcross, Georgia campus this past July, he gained a firsthand look into its modern learning environment and confirmed his instincts about the school. Altierus had recently devoted over $1.5 million for its HVAC lab and new equipment. The college had also invested heavily in technology-based programming, flexibly enabling students to work in the field while taking classes.
“Altierus is home to a state-of-the-art HVAC lab. The instructors are industry professionals that worked in the field. The culmination of remarkable facilities, high quality staff, and a passion for career readiness places Altierus at the forefront of our workforce development initiatives.” said Green.
While on campus, Green was quick to make connections among Altierus faculty and students, asking questions and sharing industry insight. Since then, the relationship has continued to blossom. Representatives from CAAG have continued to provide Altierus students and faculty with a deep understanding of the field that could only come from experienced industry practitioners. The college’s membership has also allowed it to stay abreast of industry developments and current trends. Such benefits have fostered the school’s ability to remain a nimble, responsive program designed to meet the needs of HVAC employers both now and in the future.
“Being a member of an organization like CAAG benefits not only our students, but also gives us an opportunity to help impact broader workforce development and recruitment efforts,” said Chris Moder, community engagement director for the Altierus Norcross campus. Moder has been working with CAAG to arrange campus visits and to build a collaboration focused on helping employers and students.
An additional element of the partnership has focused on addressing the current workforce. With insight from CAAG, Altierus Training Solutions, an affiliate of Altierus Career College, has been developing and will soon launch a program focused on delivering flexible, online training combined with in-field skills validation at employer sites. This approach has the potential to bolster and better sustain industry talent over their careers.
Green believes that such innovative training approaches are key to the industry’s future—and relationships with those directly involved in training the next generation of workers will more effectively help reduce skills gaps and help the industry move forward.
CAAG is a is a statewide, nonprofit trade association which represents heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors (HVAC-R) who work on residential, commercial and industrial construction projects. Among its members is Altierus, a nonprofit provider of career and technical education and direct-to-employer training solutions, has a strategic focus on the HVAC industry and a mission to elevate careers and communities through educational innovation.