Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program returns to Palomar College, with remodeled space at the Escondido Center and long-time instructor Ed Kirk.
SAN MARCOS — As the San Diego region continues to grow and businesses that install and service climate control equipment search for skilled workers, Palomar College is preparing to launch a revitalized HVAC program in 2019.
Palomar was once the home of a thriving HVAC program, with several dozen students enrolled every semester. The program was deactivated in 2009, and officials say there has been a shortage of training in the field.
“There is no for-credit training program in San Diego right now,” said Margie Fritch, Dean of Career, Technical & Extended Education. “When you look at the labor market data, you can’t find HVAC techs. We have a very strong industry base that’s saying, ‘We have to recruit outside the state.’”
Dennis Lutz, Assistant Professor of Trades & Industry, said that the tools, methods and pace of the HVAC business have all changed in recent years, and that Palomar’s updated program will prepare students for the demands of the industry.
“It’s not just heating, it’s not just air conditioning—it’s environment control,” said Lutz. “You’ve got new construction and you’ve got repairs. And then a lot of people take the entrepreneurship route.”
Ed Kirk, the former HVAC instructor at Palomar, will once again lead the program when it launches in a newly remodeled space in the Escondido Center in the fall of 2019.
Once the program goes live, the quickest route into the HVAC job market will be through a work-ready, nine-unit certificate at Palomar that will enable students to work as helpers. There will also be a full certificate and an Associate of Science degree, for students who want to take the additional classes.
Lutz said HVAC training is unique because “you’ve got to be a jack of all trades. You’ve got to know electricity, recovery systems, electric motors, fans, thermostats. If you watch somebody who’s doing HVAC, they’ve got either a laptop or a tablet and they’re going back and forth from the service unit to the device. Nowadays, it’s on the computer. That technology is just huge.”
As for the job prospects of qualified HVAC technicians, Lutz said, “I’ve had people calling me wanting to hire students right now.”