In partnership with the United States Department of Labor, Air Services Heating and Cooling/All Service Professional Plumbing founded an apprenticeship program for those looking to go into the trades. Fourteen people have completed the three-year apprentice program since it was founded in 2019. There are now 15 active apprentices in the program.
“At the core, we are much more than HVAC and plumbing company; we’re also a school,” said General Manager Rachel Fears. “We take on people who want to learn a trade and provide professional training and education, equivalent to if they had received a college degree.”
The apprenticeship clocks in at 6,000 credit hours, and anyone may apply for the program. Fears emphasized that applicants still have to complete the process of filling out an application and submitting a resume before admission into the program. Applicants considered will interview with a direct supervisor and human resources. The applicant has the opportunity to talk to employees and ride along on calls with seasoned technicians to solidify that this is the career choice they’d like to make. “We invest a lot in our employees,” said Fears. “We want to make sure they’re where they want to be.”
The apprenticeship training is not solely about learning a particular trade; it’s also heavily focused on customer service, with 40 hours of customer service training at the beginning of the apprenticeship. “The focus on customer service is something that sets us apart,” said Fears. “We really try to emphasize that upfront and throughout the training.”
After customer service training, there are 40 hours of basic electrical, then 40 hours of basic furnace repair, finishing with 40 hours of basic air conditioner service. Upon completion of the basic training hours, the apprentices start to do ride-alongs with technicians to get actual hands-on experience. An in-house training lab supplements anything learned in a classroom setting.
Once the participants have mastered the basics, they are assigned a truck and an experienced tradesperson who will ride on calls to supervise their work. Field supervisors also follow up on work performed by those in the program, and those experiences will make up the remainder of the credit hours for the trainee.
While many tend to think of the trades as careers for men, Fears is quick to point out that would be a mistake; Air Services/All Service is proud to employ female technicians. “It’s considered a man’s industry, but this is a great career for anyone who likes working with their hands,” said Fears. While the company already employs female HVAC technicians, they recently hired its first female plumbing technician. “That’s huge,” said Fears. “Opening up more opportunities for more people is always a good thing. Society has taught us that men do this and women do that, but ultimately it’s about what each individual is good at regardless of their gender.” Fears said that clients’ feedback about female technicians has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.
Part of the motivation for starting the program was workers’ movement away from the trades. “We realized there was a need,” said Fears. “It does allow us to help people who don’t necessarily want or have the means to go to college, or for kids that just know right out of high school this is the career they want.”
While fewer people are going into the trades, the demand for those skilled workers remains high and continues to grow. “We are a fast-growing company,” said Fears, adding that the company is always on the lookout for recruits for the apprenticeship program.
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