Good Life Blog

Navigating the HVAC Labor Shortage

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Today, the HVAC industry is navigating a challenging issue: a labor shortage for independent HVAC contractors. As each year passes, HVAC contractors retire, technology grows, and the demand for new talent increases. This leaves HVAC businesses across North America facing staffing shortages.

To help meet the growing HVAC industry demand for workers, a wide net must address the current perception of the industry, educational opportunities, and future career paths. On the front lines of this crisis are individuals like Clay Hobbs, who offers hope for the future of the industry.  

An Industry Leader Wears Many Hats


Hobbs is the Director of Operations at the Arlington Career Institute (ACI), a family-owned institution in Grand Prairie, TX committed to providing certification in highly specialized fields such as healthcare, HVAC, and legal services. In order to help address the labor shortage, Hobbs feels that the general perception of the HVAC needs to change. “In my opinion, our industry must continue to find ways to innovate drawing new talent into the business” said Hobbs.  

As more technology is being introduced into HVAC systems, it may help to change the overall perception of the industry. “I remember learning about a Wi-Fi thermostat for the first time and thinking about how innovative and cool it was,” said Hobbs, who graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Business Administration.

Showcasing an impressive track record for teaching HVAC, Hobbs has successfully managed to excel in the trade education field. As a educator, Regional Manager, and industry salesperson, Hobbs has worn many hats within the HVAC industry.  

Diversity in Education


Hobbs stressed that it’s important for trade schools to continually modify their curriculum to keep up with the evolution of the HVAC industry. Throughout the ACI training program, students are exposed to various types of heating and cooling systems and associated technologies. This helps to diversify the students’ knowledge of the technology used in the equipment. 

“These labs allow students to learn about a manufacturer’s entire lineup of old and new products to equip them with the crucial knowledge needed for their future in the HVAC field.” Hobbs also notes that at ACI, there is one lab housing solely Goodman brand equipment. 


ACI Program Sees Success


The seven-week ACI program includes hands-on, lab-intensive workshops that prepare the participants to earn up to six North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certifications at the end of the course. Hobbs says the ACI is in the process of expanding the HVACR program in hopes of doubling the student enrollment rate and ultimately putting more technicians to work.

At ACI, Hobbs also manages the Career Placement Assistance program, which connects graduating students with careers in the HVAC industry. With 60 students per class and 6-7 HVAC classes per year, this means that ACI is working hard to reduce the shortage of skilled technicians.  

Hobbs enjoys connecting local HVAC contractors in need of skilled employees with motivated and certified graduating students. According to Hobbs, a partnership with your local trade school and niche career institutes helps HVAC local business owners acquire the much-needed industry talent and creates a funnel for students to start working after graduation. 

Hobbs stated that the focus should be to connect HVAC industry with education. Hobbs concluded, "The future of our industry depends on an interconnected relationship between the two. We must work together to solve this shortage of qualified, skilled technicians."

For more information, please contact Clay Hobbs at (972)-330-2197 or email at chobbs@arlingtoncareerinstitute.edu.