Putting the cool into heating and cooling


18 January 2023

It’s time to engage young people with the HVAC industry, says Andrew Pinder of Pinder Cooling + Heating.

We work in a thriving sector and we’re not going to be short of people in need of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services any time soon. In fact, it is a growing industry - the global HVAC market is projected to reach around £300bn ($367.5bn) by 2030.

Not only that, but it’s also anticipated that tens of thousands of new HVAC jobs will be created over the next decade. The issue is, there is nowhere near enough talented and interested people to fill roles now, so how will we cope as a sector with this increasing demand? This is the question we as an industry need to be answering now if the sector is to continue growing over the next few years and beyond.

There's no hiding from the fact that the HVAC industry is facing a shortage of fresh talent coming through. We are not alone in this, of course, and we know it’s something that many other business sectors are also having to contend with. However, it appears that we are near the bottom of the pile for young people when it comes to career choice and that is a cause for concern moving forward.

The shortage of experienced and skilled workers is an issue for the HVAC sector, as it is for the wider construction industry. We have an ageing workforce and face a recruitment challenge. One of the main reasons for this is that not enough young people look at our sector as an appealing one to work in.

Profound impact

So, what can we do to change this? First, we need to be engaging more closely with schools and colleges, explaining what the industry is all about and highlighting the range of opportunities it offers - from design and manufacturing to maintenance and sales - and we need to be prepared to mentor more young people in formal apprenticeships.  

Businesses should also be looking to invest in new technologies. Not only can this help create new opportunities for growth, but by investing in digital solutions, for instance, you can upskill your workforce to help meet the growing demand for smart building technology. The latter requires specialist software to operate and maintain and at the same time taps into the skills and interests of a digitally savvy generation. 

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We also need to think about how we can use popular platforms like YouTube and Tik Tok to engage with a wider, and younger, audience. We need to be nimbler and not simply expect people to come to us. Yes, we’re a major sector built on innovation, but sometimes we need to shout a bit more about what we do and highlight the fact that someone joining our industry can enjoy a rewarding career working in the residential, commercial, or industrial sectors. 
We know that demand for air conditioning is increasing around the world as global temperatures continue rising, and this means that maintaining utility systems and keeping them in good working order should ensure the industry remains buoyant. 

It’s crucial that we engage with young people and explain how something we all take for granted today, like air conditioning, has had a profound impact on our lives. It has revolutionised architecture and the places in which we live and work - for instance the upper floors of glass-fronted offices and skyscrapers would be insufferable without air conditioning.

More productive

Studies have shown that air conditioning can make us more productive and that the technology behind it is getting cleaner and greener, something that is hugely important if we want climate-conscious young people to join our ranks. Yes, we know that the heating and cooling of buildings accounts for a high proportion of carbon emissions. But we know, too, that the HVAC industry has a key role to play in providing energy-efficient and sustainable technologies to drive the net-zero future of the industry.

Not only that, but as we emerge into a post-Covid world and employees start returning to their old offices there is going to be increased focus on healthier working spaces and the role of HVAC systems is going to be crucial in combating not just covid but other airborne bugs. The future proofing of our buildings and ensuring they are fit for purpose for the next 30 years is going to require bright new talents entering our industry. 

So, we must now find ways of ensuring that we are at the top of the pile when graduates and apprentices are deciding where, and for whom, they want to work. If we can do that it will not only benefit our businesses but also the planet.