For those who have spent their career in HVAC, the last few years have seen unprecedented advances in technology. Some of those trends deal with HVAC equipment, including considerable increases in efficiency and the introduction of smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT).
However, some of those trends also deal with the way we train new technicians and keep existing techs up to date with the latest developments in the industry.
The Need for Advancement
The HVAC industry is facing an unprecedented skills gap. There has never been a greater need for advances in HVAC training with more technicians than ever hitting retirement age at the same time. Previous training methods simply can’t develop new technicians fast enough.
HVAC businesses face problems such as increased errors, sub-standard customer service, or even the need to turn away projects unless they can find ways to prepare techs faster, smarter, and cheaper.
Fortunately, technology has an answer. New HVAC training options like on-demand classes, 3-D simulations, and VR training for HVAC are creating the opportunity to train techs better and create a more efficient and profitable HVAC tech team.
From the Classroom to the Screen
For years, classroom education has been the predominant way to teach new technicians and offer continuing education to veteran techs. It was never a particularly effective means of teaching hands-on skills, but there didn’t seem to be any other options.
It was usually paired with on-the-job-training so techs could get their hands on the machinery and tools. However, it was still a slow way to get new technicians ready to work.
The limitations of classroom learning became even more apparent when the industry faced two new trends: the need to train faster, and the entry of digital natives into the workforce. The growing skills-gap has made it more critical than ever to increase the speed at which new technicians learn.
At the same time, this new breed of HVAC techs is made up of people born into a world where screens are everywhere. These young techs are not only more comfortable consuming content on a screen, but they are also comfortable learning at their own pace and at a time and place that works best for them.
Fortunately, HVAC training is now available in an on-demand video format. Techs can gain access to hours of courses developed by top industry experts on topics from foundational applied sciences to advanced system troubleshooting. Students can take classes at their own pace and focus on what they need most to gain the skills they need.
On-demand videos can be viewed on desktop computers, tablets, and even mobile phones, making them available any time and any place.
From the Field to the Virtual
Classroom learning has always been supplemented by hands-on experience, usually in the field under the guidance of more experienced technicians.
There are two problems with this, especially at a time when more techs need to be trained faster. First of all, it is not scalable. When our best veteran techs are retiring, and we have more new recruits than ever, there just aren’t enough experienced technicians to work with all of the new trainees. Second, field training does not offer enough repetition for new techs to master skills fast enough.
Fortunately, through VR training for HVAC, new technicians can have a field-like experience through the immersive world of virtual reality. Once reserved for pilots, surgeons, and military personnel, virtual reality is now an affordable option for training HVAC techs.
This type of immersive learning has been proven to help people learn skills faster and retain more. Technicians can gain experience with diagnostic tools and repeat common tasks over and over until they have mastered them. VR based HVAC simulation is uniquely scalable.
Instead of the need for one-on-one supervision and training, you can have as many techs as you need experiencing field-like training all at the same time.
Technology Meets Necessity
On-demand video training and VR HVAC simulators are real game-changers. Finally, there is a way to train new technicians better, faster, and cheaper.
These advances in technology also provide the opportunity for veteran techs to keep up with the latest advances in HVAC equipment and learn much faster, meaning less time lost on the job. As an overall system for training and continuing education, on-demand video and VR based HVAC simulation can mean more overall productivity, fewer mistakes, and higher job satisfaction.
Advances in technology for training are our best bet for keeping up with the changes and challenges facing the HVAC industry. Those who adopt online HVAC training early will have the best chance of getting ahead of the competition and thriving in the new reality of HVAC.