Article originally posted in The Journal Record, April 6, 2018
Written by Molly M. Fleming
Workers install equipment at Metro Technology Centers’ Climate and Energy Control Technologies Center of Excellence at 4901 S. Bryant Ave. in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Brent Fuchs)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lashar Home Comfort Systems Owner Tim Lashar said the lack of trained people is a major problem in the home air-systems industry.
“The industry is remarkably short of people that are good quality individuals, so people that are not only technically sound but the kind of people you want going into customers’ homes,” Lashar said.
Lashar’s company does mostly residential work, with some light commercial work in the mix as well. He said it’s about the time of the year when he’ll have his biggest need for more employees. He’s missed out on getting to some potential customers because he didn’t have enough people to cover all the work.
Metro Technology Centers wants to help increase the number of trained people in building-infrastructure technology with its Climate and Energy Control Technologies Center of Excellence. At the center, students can receive training in how to install heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and refrigeration systems.
The center is in a remodeled 19,000-square-foot building on campus. Oklahoma City-based Renaissance Architects President Socrates Lazaridis designed the update. Smith & Pickel did the construction on the $3 million center.
The addition of the new center has been in the works for about six years, said Bob Parrish, superintendent and CEO of Metro Tech.
“There will be an increasing need for (these jobs) in the next 10 years,” he said.
The school worked with National Coalition of Certification Centers to create certified programs. Executive Director Roger Tadajewski said the coalition seeks the help of industry leaders to create its certifications. With the climate and energy control center, Trane was the professional partner. Metro Tech’s center will be the 17th Trane-related climate and energy center. Tadajewski said people who complete the program can do more than work on Trane equipment.
“Trane is very interested in helping every student that goes through the Metro Tech program find a job,” Tadajewski said. “Whether they work for Trane is not their mission. They’re bigger mission is to help people get a job in HVAC.”
This is the first NC3-Trane program in Oklahoma. Tadajewski said the coalition is talking to technical schools in Tulsa to see about offering the program in the state’s northeastern region.
The addition of the Center of Excellence is the beginning of several updates at the South Bryant campus. Parrish said the board of education is considering about $20 million in updates to the campus. The existing programs will stay in their buildings. He said the school is always looking at what careers will be needed in the next five years.
“We really study (the job need) before we start anything new,” he said. “That’s always a difficult thing to predict.”
Parrish said he’s happy to bring this program to south Oklahoma City. He said it will be a great addition to the industry.
“We can partner our school with the industry to help students advance their careers,” he said. “It’s exciting to everyone on our team.”
Metro Tech will host a grand opening for the Center for Excellence on Friday at 10 a.m. Parrish said the name was important to not only tell the industry about the students’ abilities but set a standard for the students.
“The main thing is we want the industry to be drawn, know we’re here, and the students are needing the jobs,” he said.
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