With skilled employees retiring from HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and more projected to retire over the next 10 years, employer demand for HVAC skills remains strong and is growing. That’s in part because positions are going unfilled due to fewer people entering the trades but also because of the retirement tsunami. The only way to meet demand is to make these careers more welcoming to women. Right now, just 2% of HVAC employees are female, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In welding, women fill 5% of the jobs.
But that doesn’t mean HVAC or welding careers aren’t for women. It may be challenging to enter a male-dominated industry, but women can succeed and even go on to lead. The US has a deep history of women in the skilled trades with 37% of the workforce made up of women during WWII. Now is a great time to embark on a skilled trade career.
Not surprisingly, women are drawn to careers in the trades because of the wages and job stability, according to a 2021 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). But women struggle to learn about their options because guidance counselors and others don’t typically steer them towards these careers. For women who do enter the skilled trade fields, some face obstacles on the job. It’s not easy, but if you can cut through the stereotypes, HVAC and welding can be meaningful careers.
To find a skilled workforce, the HVAC industry is recruiting and training women to meet that need. HVAC companies are attending job fairs, and creating recruitment drives and scholarships for women. Be on the look-out for these opportunities.
States are also recognizing the need to recruit into the trades and have created initiatives to attract young people. In Florida, it’s called Get There: Florida’s Workforce Education Initiative, designed to raise awareness of career and technical training available to residents. Arkansas has a campaign to educate people about skilled workforce career options. Other states working to change perceptions of trade careers include Indiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Find out what your state offers and if there may be scholarships available for career training.
You can also explore professional organizations geared just for women. They offer professional support to women working in different trades. Women in HVACR provides mentorship and lists scholarships for students pursuing HVAC training through a technical college or trade school. Women-only welding organizations tend to be regional but check them out for inspiration: Latinas Welding Guild, Women Who Weld, and Chicago Women in Trades.
If you’d like to learn more about HVACR or welding at Fortis, click here for more on HVACR or here for information on our welding program, or call 1-855-436-7847 to speak with an advisor today.