RALEIGH, N.C. — A hiring event on Wednesday is designed to encourage and recognize heating and cooling technicians breaking into the high-demand industry.
According to industry experts, there are not enough HVAC technicians to meet the demand. That’s why Vernon Malone College and Career Academy is trying something new.
On Wednesday, the school will hold its first signing ceremony for students. Local HVAC companies Piedmont Service Group and Newcomb and Co. will offer jobs to a handful of students who have completed an internship and are expected to graduate.
The ceremony is similar to a college sports ceremony, where players are handpicked by teams.
“A lot of them see sport stars go into a signing ceremony or a commitment ceremony, and so it was a chance for us to mimic that so that they could feel that same level of appreciation,” said Michael Kendrick from Newcomb and Co.
HVAC companies are struggling with hiring nationwide. The main business problem, they say, is recruiting qualified people.
Of the 13,000 licensed electricians in the state, 70% are 51 or older. Only 10% are 40 or younger, and fewer than 1% — just 135 electricians — are 30 or younger.
Tim Norman, who leads the N.C. State Board of Examiners for electrical contractors, said those age statistics are scary.
“It’s mind boggling, it’s astonishing,” he said. “We’ve got to do something, because we have a problem coming.”
Norman said he thinks the shortage of young workers is the result of more high school graduates heading straight to college.
“I think that kids today are being pushed into going to a 4-year college,” he said.
Jerry Spaulding with Piedmont Service Group hopes Wednesday’s signing ceremony will motivate students to get into the field.
“It’s a multi-year journey, so we’re two to three years into it, and now just seeing a steady pipeline of highly qualified talent,” said Spaulding. “Programs like this enable that to be even more meaningful because they come out of high school with some understanding of the trade.”
The ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. at Vernon Malone on South Wilmington Street.