If you think recruiting workers to the HVAC and sheet metal industry is already tough, try just targeting only women.

But that’s the challenge Catie Rogers, 25, has set for herself. A fifth year apprentice at Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 in Indianapolis, Rogers has become a one-woman recruiter for the industry and the opportunities it offers.

You might remember Rogers from a February 2017 story (“Mutually attractive?”) written by former associate editor Audrey LaForest that profiled millennials embarking on sheet metal careers. Since we last featured her, Rogers has gotten closer to graduation from her apprentice program and started thinking about her next career move. She says she loves sheet metal work and the income it provides, and she thinks other young women like herself would feel the same if they knew about the industry.

You can find out more about Rogers and her mission on page 11 in this month’s issue.

While Rogers is focused on recruiting women to sheet metal work, it’s a long-standing problem for the industry overall. According to a 2015 study commissioned by the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation, the industry will need 115,000 more workers by 2022 to meet anticipated demand for technicians. 

With a large segment of its workforce close to retirement, how can HVAC bring more people — men or women — to the field?

I’ve heard about some contractors, distributors and others in the industry who have tried some unusual recruiting techniques. One residential HVAC contractor in the metro Detroit area has run radio ads on a popular AM news-talk station encouraging experienced HVAC technicians to join his company. I’ve talked to owners who have signing bonuses and others who use social media websites like Facebook or Craigslist to attract workers. I haven’t heard if such efforts have been successful.

How is your company finding new employees?

Snipsmag.com poll results   

President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would impose tariffs of 10 percent and 25 percent on imported aluminum and steel, respectively. What’s your view of these new taxes?

tariff poll

Orange: Finally! Other countries have taken advantage of U.S. trade policy for far too long.

Green: I’m conflicted. The president is right that other countries do not have open markets, but I worry this will cost U.S. jobs.

Yellow: This is a bad idea. History has shown that trade wars cannot be won. It will increase costs for businesses and consumers.

Blue: I don’t know. We’ll see how it plays out.