Partnership prepares high school students for careers in the heating, air industry

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019

For those who are blessed to live in Mississippi, and deal with the unpredictability of the weather, having confidence in your home or business’ heating and air system is a must.

With a customer base that relies on having cold air when it’s hot and warm air when it’s cold, demands are placed on local HVAC and other industrial businesses to have a ready supply of workers to help fill the needs of their customers.

Thanks to a partnership between the Vicksburg Warren School District, Hinds Community College and local HVAC representatives such as South Dade Air Conditioning, Unified Brands, Kelly Refrigeration, Vicksburg Cooling & Heating, Sharpe Heating & Cooling and Prescott Heating & Air, eight seniors from Vicksburg High School and Warren Central High School, are taking advantage of the opportunity to earn the credentials needed to have careers in these areas.

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“Business partners have been instrumental in guiding this initiative and ensuring that specific skills are covered with students in order for students to be successful in the industry,” Dr. Terence James, Vicksburg Warren School District’s Career and Technical Education Administrator said.

Industry partners came together last year to discuss their needs to streamline qualified workforce development efforts for their industry. With these needs in mind, Hinds Community College developed a curriculum that allows high school students to earn their OSHA and Forklift certification. Last summer, students completed the two-week training and earned their certifications.

From there, seniors in the HVAC career pathway enroll in additional training at Hinds Community College during their first semester including hands-on training in hand and power tools, construction drawing, basic residential wiring and additional work toward earning National Center for Construction Education and Research certifications.

With these certifications in hand, students will have the opportunity to participate in a work-based learning experience to gain hands-on work experience with HVAC companies during their second semester. HVAC companies have the opportunity to hire the students upon their successful graduation from high school.

The vision of the Vicksburg Warren School District is to prepare all students for college, career and life.

Students who pursue careers such as HVAC technicians, engineers, mechanics, installers or refrigeration technicians can expect to earn between $40,000-75,000 annually.

The Vicksburg Warren College and Career Academies, through the Workforce Engagement Council, continue to expand to support the current workforce needs in Warren County. The district works to match opportunities with the skills and aspirations of students.

“Students now have more opportunities with the business community than they ever had before,” James said.