The Unfiltered Blog

November 15, 2018

HVAC apprenticeship programs support skilled trades in Iowa

By Jason Gassmann, President

Going to college and getting a four-year degree from a public or private institution is not the right path for everyone. In fact, in the State of Iowa 1 in 3 students drop out of college after their first year. And nationwide, nearly 2 million students who begin college each year will drop out before earning a diploma.

Over the last 20 years there has been a shift away from providing classes that teach high school students how to work with their hands. And now employers in skilled trade fields are having increasing difficulty finding qualified employees.

Programs like the skilled trades academy, a pre-apprenticeship program at Central Campus in Des Moines, introduce students to trades like welding, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC.

The academy is supported through a partnership between the Des Moines Public Schools and the local construction industry. The skilled trades academy and apprenticeship programs, like the one Bell Brothers offers, provide a stable and predictable pipeline for the development of qualified workers.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, November 12-18, we are sharing an overview of what an HVAC apprenticeship program is and why it’s important.

What is an HVAC apprenticeship program?
An apprenticeship program provides specialized education for those working in a skilled trade (e.g., electricians, plumbers, etc.). It requires four years of training — 144 hours per year in the classroom and 2,000 hours per year on the job. Once completed, an apprentice takes the journeyman test, which once passed, grants them a journeyman license in the State of Iowa. After five years, a journeyman can take the masters test – the highest level of achievement.

Why do HVAC professionals enroll in an apprenticeship program?
A four-year university isn’t the right fit for every person. Some people are more hands-on. Some don’t want to be riddled with college loan debt. Some people want — or need — to earn money right away. An apprenticeship program allows students to learn a profession while earning money and taking on zero (or little) debt, as employers typically pay for the program.

In addition, apprenticeship programs match the student’s training with their work. Students have a full training lab with the equipment they service and install out in the field. And some programs are able to offer a smaller class of eight to 10 apprentices per level compared to 20 to 30 — allowing more specialized attention to each apprentice.

If you or someone you know is interested in enrolling in an apprenticeship program in Iowa, explore how you can earn and learn.