Madison, Wis. – FOCUS ON ENERGY®, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources program, held its first-ever workshop training at a Wisconsin school Thursday at Wausau East High School.
Focus on Energy Trade Ally contractors in the heating and cooling industry spoke with interested students about their work and future opportunities in the trade.
“Any time we can link what students learn in the classroom to real world applications or people actually doing it, it makes the subject matter more ‘real’ to the students,” said Wausau East technology education teacher Jacob Stachovak. “HVAC is a subject I don't have a lot of time or expertise to cover. At the very least, I'm hoping a seed of interest is planted in their minds about a potential career path.”
The workshop was a collaboration with the school, Focus on Energy and Big Ideas, USA, which has a goal of creating awareness of viable employment opportunities in the building/contractor trades through hands-on learning and basic introductory opportunities.
“In the Focus on Energy Trade Ally Solutions program, we work with a large network of HVAC Trade Allies, the majority of which have commented there is a lack of qualified labor,” said Focus on Energy Senior Program Manager Karl Hilker.
Students who attended heard from Charlie Wilkomm from Lennox Industries, in Milwaukee, and Ethan Gilray from Gilray Heating, in Wausau. The learned what to expect in the HVAC field, potential income in the industry and guidance for those interested in additional HVAC training.
“Essentially, we want to create a spark with some students and then provide them with the information on how to proceed with this career path,” Hilker explained, adding that similar in-school workshops like this will follow.
“One of our goals is to apply the lessons learned [from the initial workshop] for some future presentations that we are anticipating holding in the fall. Ideally, we would like to create a curriculum template we can provide to HVAC contractors across the state as a framework that will allow them to approach schools in their service territory.”
Focus on Energy offers energy expertise and financial incentives to the ratepayers of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner in the Program and works with Trade Ally contractors is various fields on energy efficiency projects.
A third-party evaluation noted Wisconsin runs the most cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation. It also found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates more than $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced pollution and reduced energy costs.