Workforce Opportunity Grant Spotlight
Central Louisiana Technical Community College and ACA Corporation
The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry is experiencing a growth in Variant Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems, which are relatively new, efficient heating and cooling systems. As more homes and office buildings are being built with VRF systems, the industry is in need for trained installers and service technicians.
For this reason, ACA Corporation and the Central Louisiana Technical Community College partnered to bring VRF systems training to Central Louisiana. “Our company’s thoughts were, let’s partner with the technical college and have a training center established in Alexandria, not only for ACA employees but for the students of the technical college and for other companies in the area that may want this training,” said Robert Taylor, ACA’s General Manager. “When The Rapides Foundation opened up the grant opportunity, that was our low-hanging fruit for training.”
The Workforce Opportunity Grant is funding two cohorts of ACA technicians to be trained in VRF technology at CLTCC, which will continue offering the training after the grant cycle is complete.
“The other thing that occurred was getting our suppliers who sell us this equipment to partner with the schools,” Taylor said. “So because of these partnerships, Daikin and Mitsubishi will have their service representatives involved with the training as well. Another component is making sure all the teachers at the schools get certified and are able to teach it, that they get training from the manufacturers. The benefits are awesome for everybody who participates and tries to get the most out of it.”
HVAC Instructor Bruce Twigg
Misty Slayter, Vice Chancellor of Workforce at CLTCC, said the college will become the only non-factory Daikin-certified training center in the state. “Typically, if you are a company like ACA, you would have to send your technicians to a Daikin factory for Daikin training, which could be as far away as Austin or Houston. So we will be the first in Louisiana to have a certified trainer for the Daikin equipment.”
“We are helping ACA to get the trained technicians they need right now, but we are also able to help those who are going through the traditional HVAC program gain the knowledge so hopefully when they graduate they will be more desired by companies like ACA because of their training in VRF,” Slayter said.
For the pilot program, CLTCC is providing 720 hours of VRF systems training to ACA employees. When the employees complete the training and become certified, they will receive a pay hike. Moving forward, potential job candidates who are certified would be more attractive to ACA and other HVAC employers, Taylor said. “You’re probably going to get a higher offer from us because you have the VRF exposure. Just having that basic knowledge increases their value to us because they are not having to be trained to do all that,” Taylor said.
CLTCC HVAC Instructor Bruce Twigg went through training in Shreveport to learn the new technology. “They poured knowledge at us for three days. We learned about the process as well as being able to teach the guys from ACA how to hook up the equipment and everything,” he said. “I love to teach and pass on my knowledge. This new VRF equipment is unbelievable in how it works, and just to be able to have that knowledge and pass it on is really good.”