ACCA Urges Presidential Candidates To Make Workforce Development For The Trades A Top Priority

November 23, 2015

On November 23, 2015, ACCA President and CEO Paul T. Stalknecht sent a letter to all Republican and Democratic Party presidential candidates highlighting the difficulty the HVACR industry faces recruiting skilled labor and the need to direct more students into the construction trades to meet a growing workforce gap.

In his letter Stalknecht wrote, “The media discussion about welders and philosophers following the November 10 Republican Presidential debate ignored the point being made that this country desperately needs skilled workers in the construction trades yet we fall short in encouraging students down this rewarding career path. I could not agree more with Senator Rubio’s comments that we need to 'make higher education faster and easier to access, especially vocational training. For the life of me I don't know why we stigmatize vocational education.'”

While the demand for new HVACR technicians and installers grows year by year, with an estimated 115,000 new workers needed by 2022, the industry struggles to attract new workers. Meanwhile, there is a missed opportunity for workers and the economy when there are too many empty seats in HVACR classrooms. 

Qualified students who may not be right for a traditional 4 year college may not realize the opportunities available to them in the HVACR industry. A recent ACCA survey showed 64%  of respondents never attended a traditional four year college and 40% started out as tradesmen gaining technical skills, then made the entrepreneurial jump to opening their own shops and learning the business skills on the fly. Seventy percent of HVACR jobs posted in 2014 offered average salaries of $49,259 that can go higher with signing bonuses and opportunities for promotion. HVACR jobs are stable, with year-round employment that cannot be offshored, and provide strong living-wage salaries, and HVACR jobs are in demand across all states and across many occupation families. 

Attached to the letters was a copy of the executive summary of the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation’s report, The HVACR Workforce: Demand Heats up as Supply Melts Away: A Projection of the Coming Shortfall of HVACR Workers and How to Fix it.

"By sending all the candidates these letters, we want them to realize our industry is a critical part of America's economic infrastructure and growth," said Stalknecht. "Not only do HVACR companies help keep environments healthy and comfortable, they are a source of well-paying jobs for skilled people. Support for vocational training and workforce development benefits everyone and should be front and center in policies designed to reduce unemployment and improve our energy efficiency."

If you have questions about the letter that ACCA sent to the presidential candidates, contact Charlie McCrudden, ACCA's senior vice president of government relations at


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ACCA is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environment and energy services community. Our member firms are the nation's most professional contracting businesses, serving residential and commercial customers in every state. With roots stretching back a century, ACCA was incorporated in its present form nearly 50 years ago. Today, ACCA sets the standards for quality comfort systems, provides leading-edge education for contractors and their employees, and fights for the interests of professional contractors throughout the nation. Learn more about ACCA here.