Atlanta training institute drums up HVAC training recruits for upcoming career fair

Yes, there’s a shortage of HVAC technicians, says Jeffrey D. Rogers, Administrative Director of the Mechanical Trades Institute-Joint Apprenticeship & Training Trust in Atlanta. His organization offers a five-year training program for HVAC technicians.

 “Contractors can’t get enough of them. Having good technicians and more available technicians would help our contractors grow their businesses,” Rogers states.

Those worker shortages may get worse as construction activity continues to grow in Atlanta. The Big Peach city in the Peach State will see small but sustained growth in construction volume predicts Cumming, the consulting and project management firm. Cumming’s forecasters predict Atlanta’s construction volume will grow 2 percent in 2022 over 2021 levels and another 1.4 percent in 2023 in constant dollars not adjusted for inflation.      

That growing need for HVAC technicians is why Rogers and the institute are staging a job fair for HVAC techs March 4, 2022. Click here to register for the event. The institute’s address is 6120 Purdue Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30336.

Rogers says he’s looking forward to a successful 2022 hiring event.

“We did a hiring fair about the same time last year. It was our first. We had over 40 register last year. We had 10 of our contractors present and the attendees-registrants got to cycle through and get in front of all 10 of the contractors. We did it like a speed-dating event where the attendees got to sit and do quick interviews with all of the contractors,” Rogers says, and adds that all participants met with all 10 prospective employers at the 2021 hiring event. “If the contractors wanted to follow up and schedule a more in-depth interview, they could do that,” Rogers explains to Contracting Business. Last year’s fair had participation by seven different trade and technical schools. They sent either students who were in their last semester or had just completed their tech school courses.

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Rogers says contractors in Atlanta support the hiring event.

“We have an advisory committee at the institute, and a lot of the contractors on the committee participated in last year’s career fair. In the spring, they are looking to increase their workforces, and they are looking to bring in entry-level service technicians. These people coming out of the technical college and trade schools are good candidates,” he says.

And yes, the 2021 hiring event was a singular achievement, Rogers says. “Close to 30 percent of the participants got job offers, and many of those technicians are still employed with the same contractors. Many of last year’s fair attendees rolled right into our apprenticeship program that started in the fall, so the 2021 hiring event was a great success.”   

The Mechanical Trades Institute–Local 72 Training Center (MTI-72) program has been successfully training apprentices to be pipefitters, plumbers, and HVACR service technicians since 1936 and became an official Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program in 1942. Sponsorships from the Mechanical Contractors Association of Georgia and the Plumbers, Pipefitters & Service Technicians Local Union No 72 enable the institute to provide training with no tuition charges; tuition is free for all students.

Rogers is working to partner with technical schools in and around Atlanta.

“We want to bring in their graduates; we want to give them access to jobs and to help them continue their training,” he says. “The tech schools in our area are doing a great job. They just focus more on the residential side. When the students get into our apprenticeship program, we focus more on the commercial and industrial side. The institute is just adding to the knowledge that they have. We aim to partner with every school—it grows one by one.”

Rogers is casting a wide net to get technical and trade schools to participate in the fair. 

Rogers’ institute recognizes technical or trade school graduates’ attendance and gives the graduates a year’s credit in the apprenticeship program.

Rogers is casting a wide net to get technical and trade schools to participate in the fair.

“Fortis has been a big supporter. They did a great job, and they had a great number of student-participants,” he recalls. 

Lincoln Technical College and UEI also participated in last year’s fair. Rogers says students from Piedmont Technical College and Gwinnett Technical College have signed up to participate in this year’s fair.

A career as an HVAC technician can be rewarding and quite lucrative, Rogers tells Contracting Business. “When they come into the apprenticeship program with a year’s credit, they are making over $17 an hour, and every year they get an increase. After four years as a journeyman the technicians are making $33.68 per hour plus benefits—their total package is close to $50 an hour. Good compensation? Yes it is!”

After four years as a journeyman the HVAC technicians are making $33.68 per hour plus benefits.

Rogers says his team is pushing out announcements about the hiring fair on social media. He says his team has boosted its use of social media as a recruiting tool in 2022 compared to 2021. “We are visiting the technical schools and alerting students to the job fair, also.” He adds that the mechanical contractors association is running ads announcing the job fair on Atlanta’s WSB Radio.

Yes the shortage of technicians in Atlanta is real, Rogers says. “For those students who are in their final semester, we’ve asked our contractors to honor our commitment to these schools to allow them, the students, to finish their coursework. Don’t try to pull them out of school and say, ‘Hey, I need you to start working in the field right now.’ Let them finish their final year of schooling before they plug them into the workforce.”

How many attendees does Rogers believe will attend the 2022 career fair? “We are hoping to have in the range of 40 to 50 registrants. We feel that that level would signal another successful hiring event.” With the fair just around the corner, Rogers says things are looking good. “The number of registrants is starting to grow and that’s what we are hoping for.”

Michael Keating writes for a variety of publications, including NATE Magazine and American City & County. Contact: michael.keating@informa.com