Some technical schools cheat our industry

MIGUEL BARRETO MIKE'S REFRIGERATION BOGOTA, N.J. Don't be surprised, but here in New Jersey some county technical schools cheat our industry by certifying incompetent students as HVACR technicians. This might be going on in some other parts of the country too, but no doubt it is happening in New Jersey. I'm not going to give the names of any schools, but it's the truth. The HVACR industry is an excellent

MIGUEL BARRETO
MIKE'S REFRIGERATION

BOGOTA, N.J. — Don't be surprised, but here in New Jersey some county technical schools cheat our industry by certifying incompetent students as HVACR technicians. This might be going on in some other parts of the country too, but no doubt it is happening in New Jersey. I'm not going to give the names of any schools, but it's the truth.

The HVACR industry is an excellent one, making rapid growth at this time. Our industry has been changing; technology has been advancing; business has been growing. There's no sign of any impending fall-off in work. Everyone's comfort is involved in the work we do. Students are seeing the future in this industry and are trying to join it through county technical schools and by other sources. And in these schools they spend thousands of dollars to become certified trained technicians within a year. Don't be shocked to read that, it's true.

These students start out with no experience or training at all, and the schools imagine they are imparting all this knowledge and end up certifying them. This certification I'm talking about is industry standard certification, not related with school or community college certification. It's surprising that within 10 months a student can pass with a 90% score in the certification test.

Be my guest, hire one or two of these newly certified students for your company and see for yourself. I did it twice. I hired them directly from the county technical school through a job placement service. The people they sent me were A-plus students in class. Guess what kind of results I got? It's a shame, real embarrassing. I saw their certification, and it was top-notch, which makes no sense and adds no value, for them or for their employer.

One of the students told me there is very little practical, hands-on training. Another thing I noticed was that a Spanish-speaking student passed an English-language test with a 90%-plus score — and in the field doesn't know even the basic tools of the trade. The other one doesn't even know where to put the manifold gauge. You're going to call these people technicians?

Just giving someone a certification exam doesn't make him a technician. Learning this field takes time. People need the basic knowledge to under-stand what they are doing and follow instructions, and in the field they can then gain the necessary experience.

But giving unqualified people these diplomas and certificates spoils the reputation of our industry. Technicians need to be certified based not just on school education, but on experience too. Technicians should have at least a year or two in the field before they can call themselves a certified HVACR tech.

There should be a distinction made between a certified technician and an experienced technician. Who would you want to be? And who would you rather hire? You make the choice.