Adding to the momentum of their partnership launched in April, representatives of Johnson Controls and Lincoln Tech gathered outside Chicago just after Labor Day to celebrate National Workforce Development Month with the second of 10 openings of training sites planned across the U.S. through next spring.
The expanding, multi-year program represents an aggressive attempt by Johnson Controls to get out ahead of the predicted workforce shortages and skills gaps that many in the HVACR industry already are reporting nationwide.
"I always wanted to change the way we look at developing our workforce," said Rod Rushing, President of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls. A veteran of more than 20 years with the firm, he explained, "We had always been a 'net taker' (of talent), so I always said that if I was ever in the position to change that, I would."
So last spring, Milwaukee WI-based Johnson Controls entered into a formal agreement with West Orange NJ-based Lincoln Educational Services Corporation (Lincoln Tech), a 72-year-old, national provider of specialized technical training, to provide expanded career opportunities for graduates of Lincoln Tech’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Electrical and Electronic Systems Technology (EEST) training programs. The manufacturer agreed to provide training equipment, sponsor classrooms throughout the country and assist Lincoln in recruiting new students for these programs. The 10-city program started in Indianapolis IN last month, and will next move onto Denver CO in the weeks ahead. Eventually, the program will also touch the Lincoln Tech campuses in Columbia MD; East Windsor, New Britain, and Shelton CT; Mahwah and Union NJ; and Marietta GA.
"We're looking for a diversity of thoughts and ideas and backgrounds," added Tracy Long, Area Vice President for Johnson Controls Building Solutions North America. Responsible for operations in 14 Midwest states, Long is hopeful that the new program will be able to feed the company with the technical workforce that its growing market needs will demand. "Granted, this is about meeting our needs in the short term," added Rushing. "But it's also about creating excitement, inspiring people and exposing them to the great career progression opportunities that this industry offers," he said.
Last month in Indianapolis, Lincoln Tech President & CEO Scott Shaw said the new partnership demonstrates the school's commitment to helping students and employers, alike, overcome the skills gap that exists in many hands-on industries today. "Having the support of an employer like (this) will prove to be invaluable for our graduates who can connect with a company that's really defined the fields of climate control and energy efficiency for more than a century," Shaw said. "[They were] paving the way in these arenas long before the fields were even being thought about as critical to our environment and our world. Now, as Johnson Controls continues its drive toward the development of 'smart' cities built around integrated infrastructure, it's exciting to know that our students can one day be a part of it."
Lincoln currently operates 23 campuses in 14 states.