HVACR Advisory Meeting Minutes

Jan 21, 2021, 12:30 p.m.

Meeting Place



Nancy Sweet, Dean, Applied and Emerging Technologies


Members in Attendance

Andy Fuchs - Plumbers & Steamfitters, Lisa Kruger – Comfort Air, Robbie Shipman – Hillers Sheet Metal, Robbie Matthews – Air Masters, Kirn Wildhaber, Kevin Tate, Josh Collins – LLCC

Members Absent





1. Introductions
2. Discussion of local industry and employment trends and desired education and/or experience needed for placement and career success. Identify knowledge, skills, behaviors needed by program graduates.
3. Discussion of Work-Based Learning Opportunities and Apprenticeships Model (Josh/Group)



Introductions of everyone and purpose of PAC.


Local Industry and Employment Trends

  •  Questions: 1.How strong is occupational demand? 2.What positions do you hire most frequently? 4. What is outlook over next 5 years?
    • One employer has 2 students from a school other than LLCC. Another employer has several students from LLCC in their apprenticeship programs. Another one hired 2 past graduates from other schools and one from LLCC. The one from LLCC is still with them. Employers are looking for people with mechanical abilities and good work ethics. The industry cannot fill positions for premium level HVAC service techs and that demand will always be there. Can’t keep up with the demand. Have lots of applicants but most don’t have basic skills or life skills. Takes a unique individual to get their foot in the door. LLCC needs to prep students with soft skills, who can show up and present themselves in a professional way. This area has too many graduates from local schools with a 9-month certificate who are competing for entry level jobs and are not totally trained like someone who went to a 2 or 4 year school or has several years of experience. If people aren’t willing to relocate, there isn’t a good chance of getting a HVAC job around here because the area is saturated with grads.
  • Questions: 1. Do you prefer to have someone who has gone through a training school? 2. Would a 2-year degree be better that a 9-month certificate? 3. What is our relevance to your needs? 4. What kind of training do you require? How does training relate to pay?
    •  Would prefer to have someone who has went through training at a school. Yes, looks at ones with education because you’re dealing with someone who has made an investment in their careers. Is rare that they hire someone with no schooling because there is so many applicants out there with a 9-month certificate. Union requires either a 9 month certificate or 4 years field experience and then they put person in their apprentice program. There’s a disconnect in what a 9-month program offers to what a contractor needs. There are other schools in the state offering a 2-year program and it would be a superior improvement if LLCC could offer a 2-year degree. Going to a 2-year program would give someone a little more maturity. MTI seems to have older students graduating who have gone through job loss, etc, but still have a hard time with job placement.
  • Question: Would any leadership, management skills or technical skills be more beneficial with a 2-year program?
    • Trends are changing with younger people having soft skills. Teaching them how to present themselves and speaking in a professional manner, having good work ethics, enhancing technical skills, willingness to learn, etc. would be extremely helpful. Going into a second year of school might spark an interest in a specific system.
  • Question: Are there any specific certifications or credentials that anyone requires of an entry level employee?
    • EPA 608 Refrigerant Handling Certificate.
  • Question: Are there any industry organizations that you are affiliated with that provide training or certifications?
    • United Association has agreement with ESCO and through the HVAC Excellence Program. They have credentialing through a series of assessments which are based on knowledge in gas, heat, air flow and electric heat. Pipefitters union does look at those credentials. LLCC is looking at local organizations for students to get involved in, including ESCO, NATE and RSES. Pipefitters are involved with RSES, one of the oldest and most recognized organizations. They once had a local chapter in Springfield and work was being done pre-Covid to revitalize that. Was trying to find providers for training sessions for 2 or 3 hours a month and was open to anyone. They also work with RSES. One company will hire a person who has a good skill set and is very interested in what they want to do, and then train that person to get to a pro-level. They don’t necessarily require a degree. There are tons of training tools on the internet that a person can learn from, such as You Tube. This year they will spend more money on their apprentices getting them equipment specific trained. Also are putting apprentices with journeymen.


Josh Collins from LLCC discussed work base opportunities that LLCC is wanting to expand on. This would include people from various industries and businesses visiting the classroom, job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships with local companies. Had one response from a business saying they would be willing to send someone out to visit student in the classrooms.