Facility Training vs. Unemployment Checks

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As unemployment throughout the country remains at record levels approaching 10%, the Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE) urged state employment agencies to provide unemployed workers with training in facilities-related professions, where there is a growing shortage of skilled workers.

“It is mind boggling to me that more while millions of American workers have been unemployed for months or years, there is a growing shortage of skilled workers in the facilities profession,” said Laurence Gration, CEO of AFE.

Gration said the problem is not that unemployed workers aren’t applying for facilities-related jobs, but that most do not have the skills required for today’s highly complex building systems. “Long gone are the days when someone could walk into a factory, school or other facility and depend on on-the-job training to operate their heating, cooling system, or other building systems,” he said. “Today’s green and ultra high efficiency buildings systems require the type of training that only a comprehensive training, like AFE Certification programs, can provide.”

Gration cited the example of one AFE member who had been unemployed for nearly a year before becoming AFE Certified. “After obtaining Certification and posting it on his resume, he quickly received three interviews and was hired by a Fortune 500 defense contractor shortly thereafter,” he said. “Ten years later, he is facilities director for that company–and he would be the first to attribute his professional success to becoming AFE Certified.” He added that the programs can be completed “in weeks rather than the years it would take to obtain a community college certification.”

Larry Ross, Chair of the Professional Development Committee, said that “while many facilities associations offer certification programs that will help unemployed workers to fill tens of thousands of facilities-related openings, AFE’s programs “offer comprehensive training that includes 10 Core Competencies essential to success in maintaining and operating today’s high tech green and sustainable facilities.” Those Core Competencies include Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Environmental Engineering; Energy; Controls and Instrumentation; OSHA; HVAC; Economics and Management; and Maintenance.

“Many of these openings are for jobs in the growing field of maintaining green buildings and often pay $30,000 or $40,000 a year, or more—and with overtime can wind up paying more than $60,000 a year,” Ross said. “So doesn’t it make sense for the government to pay for training to prepare unemployed workers for these job openings, instead of handing them unemployment checks?”

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