Is HVAC/sheet metal industry ignoring Gen Y?
If you’ve visited www.snipsmag.com recently or received our weekly e-newsletters, then you’ve come across our latest poll on millennial outreach in the industry. Though it’s debated by demographers, millennials are generally considered to be those born between 1980 and the early 2000s. We’ve asked our website visitors to let us know what they’re doing to attract these millennials to careers in HVAC/sheet metal and, to be honest, the response has been lackluster compared to previous polls.
As I write this in mid-May, most of the votes (36 percent) are going to the discouraging choice of “We aren’t doing anything to attract millennials to the industry.” I’ve only been writing about this industry for a year, but my February 2017 story (“Mutually attractive?”) on apprenticeships and millennials has garnered quite a bit of interest from readers who understand the importance of getting young workers to join the skilled trades. So, I have to ask, if you’re not doing anything to expose millennials to these career opportunities, then how will they have the ability to make a choice between college, apprenticeships and trade school?
By now, employers in manufacturing and construction sectors know that millions of jobs will likely need to be filled over the next decade, but a widening skills gap caused in part by baby boomer retirements and economic expansion is expected to leave many of those jobs unfilled. Employers also know that many future workers are on the college-bound conveyor belt. But national events like Manufacturing Day and studies from the Manufacturing Institute are finding that exposure to skilled trades like sheet metal can encourage those students to pursue careers in the industry.
Is your company, local union or trade school engaging with these next-generation workers, are they already working for you, or are you hoping these young workers will find you when the time comes to fill more positions? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other editor-related news, I recently heard from a female HVAC tech who read my October 2016 story, “Minding the gender gap.” She gave me some insight on what it’s like to be a woman in the industry. Her letter is below.
Audrey LaForest is Snips’ associate editor.
More glass ceilings shattered
Guys love seeing me in the field. One guy said, “I have to get used to hearing a woman’s voice on the job. I keep thinking you’re the customer,” when he can hear me from afar.
My first construction job was as a bath and kitchen refinisher, and the guys would try to hold the door for me or help me with my tools. My boss and I would tell them not to do that. I’m sure there are some who have their doubts and objections, but they keep their opinions to themselves or between one another. If this was the South, it would probably be different. They’re a little behind out there. But this is 2017 in California, the state of progressiveness, you know? You see everything out here.
The only thing is when I have to actually work with a guy. I think there is a certain amount of “machoness” and ego between men anyway and then you throw me into the mix. But I think they are more confused than threatened. Aside from being female, I’m also really small: I’m 105 pounds and 5-foot-2, and I work next to guys who are 200-250 pounds. I think they’re happier to work next to a girl they like to look at instead of some hairy, sweaty, smelly guy.
Brittany Samala, HVAC supervisor
National City, California