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CARMEL — If you're willing to put in the work to land a job almost guaranteed, you could benefit from a looming worker shortage in one specialized field.
The shortage is so dire, one man is inviting people off the streets to take free classes to learn what it takes to keep heating and cooling systems running.
With four decades in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning business, Michael Labanz can simply sum up the problem.
"So, being a baby boomer, myself, and I'm very close to retirement here," Labanz said. "And I worry about the industry. And it's been like this for this past 40 years, that we can't find enough workers."
Labanz is the HVAC Technical Training Manager at Williams Comfort Air in Carmel. He sees the opportunities for those needing a paycheck and a calling.
"I've worked at six companies in 40 years," Labanz said. "Everyone is willing and waiting for applicants to come in the door to be hired and go into this trade."
The shortage of HVAC technicians in Indiana could potentially have a far reaching effect, especially in extreme weather conditions.
Labanz says pipes can freeze and property damage can add up. He points to a huge need for emergency service techs. Labanz is working with managers at his company with a plan to address the worker shortage, offering a training class that is free to the public.
LEARN MORE | Free HVAC training classes at Williams Comfort Air
Free classes with lessons on air flow, coils, basic electricity and safety. It's an open-door opportunity to attract people to the industry as a whole.
The course is four weeks, breaking down to eight hours of technical training — and prepares students to test for the "ready to work" certificate.
Right now, Labanz teaches 20 people at a time in his Carmel classroom, but he wants his class to expand. He stresses this effort is not geared toward filling the open positions at Williams Comfort Air, but rather arming his students with the basic information to work at any HVAC operation.
The industry offers a wide salary range, with benefits. Entry level HVAC techs make around $30,000 a year. There is the potential to make up to $150,000 annually. The average salary is about $45,000 per year.
"Most people don't know what this industry could give them," Labanz said.
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