Rees Scholarships Relieve Service Technician Shortage

The biggest problem facing HVAC/R contractors, manufacturers and distributors is the growing shortage of service technicians. Service techs are the point of the spear; the men and women who deal directly with business managers and homeowners. The people everyone expects to quickly find and repair all types of comfort related problems. Because service techs usually run several trouble calls every day they have a huge influence on client satisfaction, social media referrals and on-line reputation of both contractors and manufacturers.

According to the latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 332,900 HVAC/R (mechanics) service technicians and installers employed in 2016. If 50% are installation techs that makes about 170,000 service techs currently working in our industry. Let’s be conservative and say 10% retire, change careers, move into management or otherwise stop working as a tech. That means the HVAC/R industry needs to add about 17,000 service techs per year to stay even. To grow we will need to add even more.

Why it’s hard to find qualified service techs
People with math and science skills are in high demand. Service techs apply their knowledge of thermodynamics, psychometrics and scientific principles such as Ohm’s Law. After technical information is systematically collected mathematical calculations are made to solve problems. A different set of skills is required to repair problems. Service techs use many of the skills of an electrician, plumber, welder and electronics specialists to fix a myriad of problems. Think about how many industries need people with the same package of math, science and technical skills. As more industries compete with us for service techs we need to offer powerful incentives like Rees scholarships.

Training service technicians
We need to use every proven method to train future service techs. On the job training (OJT) and apprenticeship programs are established ways to train HVAC/R service technicians. These training programs are designed to allow students to spend more time learning and earning in the field, so it typically takes longer to gain knowledge that is best learned in the classroom. The quickest way to become qualified as a HVAC/R service technician is attending an accredited course at a junior college or technical schools.

Rees Scholarships recruit tomorrow’s techs
Imagine high school seniors not sure of their future. As they search for scholarships they find one that provides up to $2,000 to become an HVAC/R technician. For the first time in their life they seriously consider a career in our industry.

The Rees Scholarship application process helps candidates discover if becoming a HVAC/R tech is right for them. Applicants must answer background questions, write a 500-word essay and provide letters of recommendation. Official high school, college, or university transcripts are also evaluated.  The more Rees Scholarships we offer the less severe our service technician shortage.

The Rees Scholarship is named after Air Force Lt. General Clifford H. “Ted” Rees Jr., an F-105 combat pilot, renowned leader and president of Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) before merging with the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association to become Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI.)

You can change the future
Are you one of the contractors, manufacturers, distributors, or others who have made a great living in the HVAC/R industry and want to pay it forward? If 680 of us give $5,000 annually we could fund 1,700 Rees Scholarships every year.

With 2018 business tax rates dropping from about 35% to 20%, companies and individuals suddenly find they have unplanned income to invest. To invest in the future of your company and the health of our industry go to and make your tax-deductible donation today.

Steve Howard

By Steve Howard
Founder, The ACT Group, Inc. and No Pressure Selling®



NOTE: This article appeared online at Distribution Center Magazine and the AHRI website.

View All news