Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation
Unsung Heroes

Careers in the HVAC and Solar Industries

Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Recipients rely on the often-unsung heroes of the trades. Wisconsin businesses turn to Focus on Energy Trade Ally Contractors, and those contractors are always looking for more “heroes” to add to their teams.

The Focus on Energy Career Exploration Initiative connects high school technology education instructors with Focus on Energy HVAC and Solar Energy Trade Ally Contractors – and is why Charlie Wilkomm of Lennox Industries in Milwaukee and Eric Sutkay of Lakeview Technology Academy in the Kenosha School District are 2023 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Recipients.

Connecting Young People with Career Opportunities
Creating the Roadmap
Experience & Wisdom
Lennox Lakeview

Charlie Wilkomm is working hard today training the energy-efficiency contractors of tomorrow.

“Truly a lot of credit for this program design and the materials that we created goes to Charlie at Lennox,” Focus on Energy Senior Outreach Marketing Manager Karl Hilker said. “Charlie's HVAC Industry experience and his wisdom at presenting career information to students in the classroom is dynamic.”

The Focus on Energy Career Exploration Initiative sprouted in 2019 from one presentation to a Wausau East High School Class.

Insight & Guidance

The initiative exploded in the Fall of 2021 when Charlie brought Erik Sutkay from Lakeview Technology Academy into an advisory group.

“They basically provided a roadmap for Focus on Energy to follow,” said Hilker. “Eric's insight and guidance. He's provided Focus on Energy with best practices on how to connect with educators and how to connect them with industry partners.”

Students hear directly from contractors. They get the “day in the life” of working in the energy efficiency world such as,

  • what HVAC and Solar careers looks like.
  • the workload for technicians.
  • learn about new technology and how it works.
  • what educational requirements they’ll need for trade jobs.
  • the job prospects in the community and statewide.
  • the compensation and career advancement opportunities.
Learning and Succeeding

“Seeing the students succeed and take a liking to the stuff that Charlie’s presenting (and) when Focus on Energy comes in and presents to them,” said Lakeview Technology Academy Tech Educator Eric Sutkay, “it's great giving them that opportunity to succeed and learn about the trades and maybe pick out a career that they're interested in.”

The energy industry is changing significantly as more and more people begin their energy efficiency journeys in their homes, businesses, farms, schools, and manufacturing plants.

“It is fun to work with you guys in the high schools and promote what we do need in the trades,” said Lennox Industries Field Tech Consultant Charlie Wilkomm. “And there's a lot of work to be done and I look forward to the future of getting into more schools.”

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