Hiring Hoosiers is a new initiative from RTV6 that works to connect Hoosiers to employment opportunities, career development resources, training programs and educational paths. In our Hiring Hoosiers reports we are taking a closer look at barriers to employment and things that get in the way of people getting the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. For more information, visit HiringHoosiers.com.
CARMEL — It's a Monday night and Duane Jones is sitting in a room with air conditioners, furnaces, and people who started out as strangers.
Jones is one of hundreds who picked up the phone, after seeing an RTV6 Hiring Hoosiers report in December regarding free classes offered by Williams Comfort Air in Carmel.
"I would like to learn more so I called and got signed up and I've been in the class for the past 5 weeks," Jones said.
READ THE ORIGINAL REPORT | Worker shortage means plenty of available jobs in HVAC industry
Jones and his classmates have reached their final class, learning about the basics of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. On this night, the students are prepared to take the Ready-to-Work certification exam. For those who pass, the certification is an advantage when applying for entry-level positions, giving these students the upper hand in front of potential employers.
Josh Elliott teaches the classes, which aim to attract people to the HVAC industry as a whole, since there is a worker shortage.
The shortage of HVAC service techs is expected to worsen as more baby boomers in the field retire.
As a way to actively address the problem, Williams Comfort Air began offering free classes to the public, with lessons on air flow, coils, basic electricity and safety.
Elliott credits RTV6 and its Hiring Hoosiers project for a surge in phone calls from people interested in enrolling in the free classes.
LEARN MORE | Williams Comfort Air
"We would have small classes before that story ran and we would have anywhere from as small as 7 or 8 up to 15 people coming for class," Elliott said. "After the news story ran, we had over 200 applicants for the class, which is more than we can handle — so, we actually had to run 2 courses."
Jones saw the original story on RTV6 and recognized the opportunity, he said.
"When you put that piece out there, you're opening doors for people who never knew those doors were actually there, much less they could open them," Jones said.
Those who attend and complete the class are encouraged to apply for open tech positions at the company. Jones said he will apply for one of the 15 current openings.
Instructors point out this effort is not geared toward filling the open positions at Williams Comfort Air, but rather arming students with the basic information to work at any HVAC operation.
Williams Comfort Air is planning to ride that momentum. The company will soon start its next round of nighttime free classes.