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Topic Growth, Small Business,

There’s a major gap in the HVAC trade today—for every four that exit the field, only one enters. As a result, HVAC technicians in the U.S. total about 290,000, but there are approximately 110,000 unfilled jobs. The good news is that the HVAC industry is expected to grow 6.5 percent per year through 2030. The problem? Around 23,000 workers leave each year.

The worker shortage is a tough thing to overcome because it’s difficult to hire and train. It’s expensive to recruit—between posting jobs, sourcing candidates, and interviewing talent—not to mention the cost of training, which takes your best technicians out of commission to focus on teaching, leading to slower service call response times.

But one school in Dallas has it all figured out. Learn what ForgeNow is doing to help combat challenges for contractors and how its HVAC technician training stands out from the crowd.


Get to Know ForgeNow

If you’re going to partner with a trade program, it has to provide value to students. We spoke with Stephen Brightman, Director of Operations at ForgeNow, to learn more about the school’s dedication to training job-ready technicians and the value of its HVAC technician training programs to multiple groups.

Why did ForgeNow open its doors?

Forge Now was formed in summer 2018, with its first class of students starting in January 2020 to answer that four-in-one-out gap in the trades. Founders Marvin Key and Rob Holmes opened the school because they saw a need to improve the way people entered the trades. Traditionally, students have a few routes to take, which take significant time, money, or both.

One option is vo-tech schools. The challenge is they mostly offer night classes and/or take up to eight months of training. Second is community college to get an associate degree. Of course, it takes up to two years to earn that degree. Finally, on-the-job training provides the value of learning by doing. But there’s something to be said for how up to date an employer is. A small, family-owned company might not use the latest best practices and standards.

How is ForgeNow different from these other training options?

HVAC technician training should equip students to start working right out of the gate. ForgeNow makes sure everyone comes out knowing the same things, the expectations are the same, and we can get skilled people into the labor market quickly because for every minute you’re not working, you’re increasing your debt somehow.

Our programs get students ready to take on an exciting new HVAC career in just eight weeks through intensive training by master technicians. This includes not only technical skills but also soft skills, such as representing a brand and adapting to a routine. But on top of all this, each student is equipped with $1,000 worth of tools they get to keep, making the transition to work easier and more affordable.

How does the ForgeNow HVAC technician training program propel students’ careers?

Again, the fact that our programs are only eight weeks—and so intensive—is a huge win. Even if someone comes to train with us from over 30 miles away, they receive lodging at no extra cost, so the program can take priority.

Our job placement services department has a motto that says it all: Graduate on Friday; start work on Monday. Forge Now works to provide job security in a recession-proof industry because people will never stop needing HVAC support. And unlike other fields that start below the poverty level, a career in HVAC provides the living wages that encapsulate the American dream.

Who should apply to ForgeNow’s HVAC technician training program?

Anyone can apply to ForgeNow. We see a wide variety of students, including high schoolers and recent grads, people looking for a career change, veterans reentering civilian work, people who have been laid off and want both stability and a competitive salary, and even ex-offenders who are getting their lives back on track.

Do you have any success stories you can share?

There’s one person who immediately comes to mind who really benefited from what we’re all about. When they enrolled, they were working in food service, earning $12.75 an hour. But by the end of our eight-week HVAC technician training program, they had a new job lined up starting at $19 an hour, going on to eventually earn more and advance.

All advanced schooling comes with a price tag. Do students ever struggle with this?

Sometimes. Our programs cost a total of $12,000, which is very affordable compared to other training options. But it can be a challenge because, often, those who want to enroll don’t have the means and/or don’t qualify for credit.

That said, we do our best to remove these obstacles. For instance, ForgeNow maintains several partnerships with contractors. As a Registered Apprenticeship Program, ForgeNow works with businesses like yours to provide practical training and financial assistance, where students get access to ForgeNow’s programming while learning on the job from a sponsoring employer.

Forge (Ahead) Now Toward the Future

ForgeNow is devoted to providing best-in-class HVAC technician training for people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. With speedy eight-week immersive programs and training from seasoned professionals, students are ready for work on Day One and continue on to maintain secure careers.

Part of the equation is businesses like yours. Think an apprenticeship partnership could be a fit? Email Stephen to get started on your journey supporting the next generation of HVAC technicians.

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