Working and building on new house project

For every new person entering the trades, five more are retiring, taking what they know with them, according to a 2019 ISHN article.


“There's a loss of this knowledge base, and we have got to be aware of that and find ways to attract young new talent into the trades while there's still opportunity to learn and be mentored,” Don Brenneman said.


Brenneman is the Training and Development Manager for Airefco, an HVAC distributor with 11 locations based in the Pacific Northwest. According to Brenneman, Airefco has consistently been passionate about helping young people discover the trades—a passion that BlueVolt shares.


In January of this year, Airefco was acquired by Ferguson, and Brenneman was happy to find that they hold the same values.


There's a huge need, and we've got to be a part of that answer and help our customers, who are contractors, find young people that are interested in the trades,” Brenneman said.


As Brenneman pointed out, not only is there a need for more young people in the trades, but it’s also a good opportunity for the young people themselves. To that end, Brenneman has been working on a project for the last two years with Evergreen High School in Vancouver, WA.


A few years ago, according to Brenneman, the school raised funds, with the backing of the district, and constructed a 7,500 square foot building on the Evergreen campus to serve as a skilled trades center, teaching students about HVAC, plumbing, electrical, framing, painting, construction, and more.


“When we heard about it, as a company, we said ‘yes, we're very interested—we want to help and be a part of this, and we're going to help provide some equipment so that students can begin to learn and train on equipment and be able to get hands-on experience in what it means to be a technician,” Brenneman said.


In April, Airefco invited about 120 students in the program to their Vancouver, WA, branch on a field trip to get some hands-on experience in their training center.


"We are super excited as a company to have the students in the business environment,” Brenneman said. “Hopefully it finds ways to let them explore and see what's out there, and then start to understand what kind of career choices they can have and help them in that process.”


Face-to-face training like that isn’t always possible, however, so that’s where online training comes into play. Airefco has been working with BlueVolt for almost two years, and has built Airefco Academy, which houses their internal training. Recently, Airefco has been in conversation with BlueVolt about bringing online training to the high school students.


"Our world has changed so much over the years... building online training and using it became much more important, and I don't think that's ever going to go away. It's going to grow, and we can use BlueVolt as a platform for doing some of that training.”


Brenneman explained that within Airefco Academy, they already have classes for NATE (North American Technical Excellence) certification, which are used to train people in the HVAC industry.


“It's not easy to get NATE certified, but it is a certification that's important,” Brenneman said, adding that he hoped to develop an online program for students to show them what the process might be like. “So that's a connection that we want to explore and plug in to use BlueVolt as an online learning and training system.”


Overall, Brenneman said that he’s grateful that businesses are understanding the great need for education about the trades among the younger generations, and that companies are willing to invest time and energy into it.


“It's encouraging, really encouraging, to have a conversation with [a business like] BlueVolt, and you hear that this is happening and say, ‘we want to participate, maybe we can help connect companies [to] maybe help this skilled technical program have the tools or equipment that are needed,’” Brenneman said.


“That is exciting because that business is tied to the community... It's a good thing for your company, and it's a good thing for our community."


SOURCE: Baby Boomers retiring, leaving many open trades positions, June 2019

To learn more about how BlueVolt can help you support local trades education, give us a call at 503.223.2583 or drop us a line below.

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