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Women in Skilled Trades

HVACR Industry Focuses On Workforce Development

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigerating (HVACR) jobs will increase 15 percent per year through 2026; more than twice the average for all other occupations. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) expects even more jobs to become available in the field in the coming years as technological changes take place in the industry. 

Discussions on how to address the shortage of qualified HVACR workers in the coming years has been discussed at length, with the topic becoming more critical each year.

Accordingly, AHRI supports legislation currently under consideration in Congress that would boost American manufacturing of next-generation refrigerant technologies, promote American technology, and create tens of thousands of new jobs. The American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act (HR 5544) and its Senate companion (S. 2754) would bring about a phasedown of a class of refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and allow for a market- and consumer-friendly transition to new and better performing refrigerants, and related products and equipment. 

Creating this framework to phase down HFCs is key to transitioning to more environmentally friendly refrigerants, while protecting consumers and providing significant economic and environmental benefits. 

According to a 2018 study by Interindustry Forecasting at the University of Maryland (INFORUM), an HFC phasedown will create 33,000 new manufacturing jobs, increase direct manufacturing output by $12.5 billion, and increase the United States’ share of the global HVACR export market by 25 percent.

Talent scouting

With an expanding skills gap, the HVACR industry is committed to finding a new pool of dedicated people to begin a career that offers positions that can never be outsourced and will remain on the cutting edge of new technology. 

A 2015 report by the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation outlined recommendations to lessen the shortfall, which included finding ways to recruit students into HVACR job training, developing a unified program for accreditation and certification, and training the trainers. One key demographic that is largely missing in the field of HVACR technicians and contractors is women. 

Using our Rees Scholarship Foundation to attract students to our industry continues to be a focus at AHRI. Since 2003, Rees has awarded $930,000 to more than 500 HVACR students and returning veterans, with 33 students and veterans receiving scholarships this year. 

More than 123 schools have benefited from the donation of 782 units of HVACR equipment coordinated by Rees since that aspect of the program began in 2001. The Foundation has been delighted to see an ever-growing pool of women applicants to the scholarship program and looks forward to more. 

Key partners in our efforts to recruit and retain industry talent include SkillsUSA (an annual event that fosters professional development at the secondary and post-secondary school levels) and the industry’s leading HVAC certification body, North American Technician Excellence. 

Winners of the HVACR competition at SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference receive both Rees scholarships (valued at $2,000 each) and a complimentary Ready-to-Work certificate test, administered by NATE. The Ready-to-Work certificate, earned by more than 4,100 candidates to date, is the first of NATE’s 4 Steps to HVAC Success, which lead to certification. 

To find out more about the Rees Scholarship Foundation, visit

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