DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Bobby Ferrel has owned Green Horizon One Hour Heating and Air in Durham for the past 13 years. In that time, he says a nagging issue has persisted – a shortage of skilled workers.
“There was a huge trade gap for 20 to 30 years where people weren’t going into the trade,” said Ferrel. “Now it is impossible to find good help.”
Ferrel has taken a step to battle the problem by establishing a scholarship fund for students in the HVAC program at Durham Tech. The goal is to get them the basic know-how in the classroom, then transition them to an apprenticeship program.
Frank Rivera, a manager at Green Horizon, oversees the program. Having grown up in the industry, he wants to inspire others the way he was inspired.
“This is what we’re hoping – be the mentor for others. Whether you’re in school or 50, 60 years old and looking for a new career,” said Rivera.
When asked how many skilled techs he could hire on a single day, Ferrel quickly responded by saying, “five, which would be adding 25-percent to our workforce.”
He also emphasized the pay – $15 an hour to start as a helper – with experienced techs earning $100,000 or more. Furthermore, a college degree isn’t needed.
“We put high school degree as a requirement, but honestly, we’d entertain people who haven’t graduated from high school.”