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17 Graduates Of Charlotte's RENEW HVAC Program Quickly Find Jobs And Interviews

HVAC
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton-Maurer
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For a decade, Urban League of Central Carolinas has been running an HVAC training program where students learn the ins and outs of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Once the COVID-19 pandemic came to North Carolina in March of 2020, many jobs became unstable and unemployment increased — and that program seemed more appealing, particularly when paired with some additional incentives.

In response to the pandemic, the city of Charlotte partnered with Trane Technologies and the Urban League of Central Carolinas to put together the
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Workforce (RENEW) HVAC program. The RENEW Program specifically targets Charlotte residents who have been displaced by COVID-19 to provide skilled trades training for HVAC and electrical occupations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for the HVAC industry is expected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is within the average of for all occupations.

On April 28, 17 people graduated from Charlotte's RENEW HVAC program. Nearly half of the class has already accepted job offers while the rest are still in the interview process. RENEW is a 13-week program that pays its students $15 an hour while they are training. The city of Charlotte has invested $500,000 in RENEW HVAC from the CARES Act.

Egypt Ray shows her HVAC certificate
Egypt Ray
Egypt Ray proudly shows her HVAC certificate on April 28. Her graduation was held via Zoom.

Egypt Ray, one of the recent graduates, says being paid while she was receiving her education was one of the reasons she wanted to join the program.

“This gives people the opportunity to continue to make money while getting an education," Ray said, "and honestly it’s (lack of income) the reason why a lot of people either don’t go to school or take a pause while going to school. So I like that extra help along with the program.”

Teddy McDaniel, president and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas, says while the students are receiving their training they can also attend virtual career fairs. Trane Technologies and other vendors will interview students so that they are ready to be placed in jobs once they receive their certification.

“The program will not only train Charlotte residents in HVAC technician roles but also help the city accomplish its goal of creating new green jobs and being free of carbon emission by 2050,” McDaniel said.

And the program is proving to be popular. When it launched in September 2020, there were more than 150 applicants for 30 slots.

“The need for the training has substantially increased because of the pandemic," McDaniel said. "The pandemic has exacerbated a lot of problems, and people are looking for technical training so that they can reinvent themselves in a career, especially in Charlotte. There is a real need for people with certified training.”

Ray said she wanted to join the program because she wants more stability in her employment. She had been working as a cook at Chili's when the pandemic hit.

“COVID was my wake-up call," she said. "And I realized anything could happen at a moment's notice, so I might as well start looking into doing something that I would want to do without it being the restaurant industry..”

Now, Ray is searching for a job while working for her family’s business. Her grandfather owns a heating and air conditioning company, so her training has helped.

“I’m indecisive on exactly what side of HVAC I want to get into," she said. "I can do maintenance, or I can go back to school because a lot of jobs offer for us to further our education, and they pay for it.”

The next RENEW HVAC session will be held from June 2 to Aug. 26, and interviews for slots are being conducted now For more information about the RENEW HVAC program, visit this page.

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