Workforce development is critical to the future strength of our industry, as we work to address the skills gap that will result from retiring baby boomers. AHRI and the Rees Scholarship Foundation strive to make students and those transitioning to a new career aware that our industry has good-paying, reliable, fulfilling jobs to offer.
A recent report by the EGIA Foundation found that 51 percent of parents expect their child to attend a four-year university. The report also found that 64 percent of students believe HVAC is a not a career/job that would make a parent proud of them, while 55 percent of surveyed high school juniors and seniors indicated that they were not familiar with or knowledgeable about the HVACR industry and its job opportunities. These are only a few of the many challenging factors associated with filling trades positions with qualified young professionals. Many students and their parents have a negative perception of, or know very little about our, industry. As we move forward, we are looking into combining efforts with those in the industry to raise awareness of HVACR careers and connect veterans and students to hiring companies, while also promoting Rees Scholarships and continuing education through NATE certifications.
The Rees Scholarship Foundation has seen another record year, with 123 applicants in 2018 and 71 scholarships awarded to students, including seven veterans. In 2018, we raised nearly $246,000, and so far this year, we have raised more than $105,000. Please consider making a donation at ReesScholarship.org. These donations will fund scholarships for the future industry workforce, including returning veterans and SkillsUSA National Championship finalists competing in the HVACR category.
AHRI’s equipment donation program distributes quality equipment donated by our generous members. After the equipment is tested, many members donate the equipment to the program and we send it to schools and training facilities across the country. The only commitment that the school must make is that they will use the equipment for teaching and not sell it. Together this year we have donated more than 100 pieces of equipment to more than 50 schools.