The United Association said it would use industry-training standards supported by AHRI.

As part of the endorsement, the group, whose full name is the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, agreed to provide qualified technicians with advanced placement credit toward local unions’ HVACR apprenticeship programs.

The agreement was signed in January at the 2008 AHR Expo in New York City. Signing the agreement were Stephen Yurek, president of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Rex Boynton, president of North American Technician Excellence; Patrick Murphy, president of the Partnership for Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation; and Michael Arndt, the UA’s director of training.

“We are happy to partner with labor unions on technician training and certification,” said Yurek, whose group was formerly known as the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. “We are pleased that rigorous, industry-supported education, training and certification programs are now being recognized by labor as a key tool for increasing the number of skilled HVACR installers and technicians.”

To obtain the advanced-placement credit, which would allow applicants to begin the labor union’s program as a second-year apprentice, they must meet three requirements: They must complete a full-time program accredited by PAHRA and earned a “C” average or better; they must also achieve a passing grade on the industry competency exam for residential heating and air conditioning, as well as for commercial heating and air conditioning or commercial refrigeration; and achieve NATE certification by passing the NATE core-service test and the heating service specialty, cooling service specialty and light-commercial refrigeration service specialty exams.

“The UA has more than 300,000 members and is a proven leader in providing technical training,” said Boynton. “Its commitment to building and maintaining a skilled work force is commendable and aligns with NATE’s mission of recognizing quality technicians through voluntary testing and certification. The UA’s ability to reach hundreds of thousands of industry professionals through its apprenticeship programs, continuing education opportunities and mobile training facilities, gives NATE access to a vast pool of potential certification candidates.”

NATE officials report that through the organization’s research they have found that 84 percent of consumers who have used a NATE-certified technician would select the same contractor again and 67 percent said they were extremely satisfied with their heating and cooling system.

“Training and supplying highly skilled HVACR service technicians to our employer partners and expanding our recruitment programs are high priorities for the United Association,” said Arndt. “Our new relationship with NATE, AHRI and PAHRA will not only help us reach our mutual goals, but will advance the entire HVACR industry as well. We in the United Association look forward to working with our new partners in this endeavor for many years.”

“The addition of the PAHRA-accredited HVACR educational programs to our 5 Star Careers Program will significantly expand our HVACR service technician recruitment efforts nationwide,” added Donald House, director of the UA’s HVACR service department.