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From the Board: Roadmap to a Successful Training Program

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The March/April issue of ACCA Now contained an informative article by board member and CEO of Socal Airflow Pros, Cody Novini. In his article, Cody spoke about many topics, including career paths, work/life balance, and one topic that really stood out: training.  

As contractors, we can do everything in the world to attract and retain the talented craftspeople that we need, but none of that will matter unless we provide the training they need to be successful. A successful training and education program does not just happen; it needs to be thought out and well-planned. 

Developing a training program can seem daunting at first, but once you begin laying out the steps that need to be taken as well as the resources required, you will quickly understand that it is achievable. To assist you in getting started, I’ve outlined a roadmap that includes some areas you should consider. 

You Need a Champion 

There needs to be a person designated as your instructional leader. Without someone in place, the program will never get off the ground. This person should be in that role because they want to be, and if they have the passion, there is no way that they will fail. 

Commitment from the Owner 

A program is a great idea, and everyone will be in favor of it. But if the financial support and the necessary time are not provided, it will never be successful. Make the commitment, prepare a budget, and see it through. 

A Designated Space 

A training space with the proper equipment is paramount to a successful program. By designating a space and making that commitment, the members of your team will take you seriously, which will help to engage their minds and their hearts into what you are trying to achieve. Start small and allow it to grow as the demand for training increases. 


As you will find with any education program, there must be accountability. Tracking attendance, assigning homework, providing quizzes and tests to reinforce the material that is taught, and tracking grades lead to an enriched learning experience. The higher the expectations, the further your team members will reach. 

Pay to Attend 

Pay your team members while they are in class. Asking or suggesting that they attend on their own time tells them that you do not put value on the program, so why should they commit to being there? One option to compensate employees for time spent in class in lieu of an hourly wage is either to provide a bonus based on grades or to create an outline of the classes required to move up a level and make more money. The key is to put value towards the training and accomplishments. Professional organizations should pay their employees for professional training. When they don’t, the commitment goes away, as do your desired results. 

Curriculum Development 

Develop a curriculum that makes sense. Numerous online resources exist to help you create an engaging program that includes videos, images, textbook (Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Technology) handouts, ACCA website information, etc. You don’t need to start from scratch as content is already available. If you’re not sure where to start, use your service technician or installation checklist. You can take each item on that checklist and break it down into its own class session; it’s okay if some topics require more time than others. One word of advice is to make classes no more than two hours in length as this is the ideal learning time for adult education. Remember that these folks also have to work a full day. 

Schedule it Out 

Establish a schedule for the next six months. By publishing and sharing the schedule for the next six months, your team members know that you are committed. It also forces you to see it through. Avoid your busiest months of the year but do whatever you can to never cancel a class because you’re busy. If a company is so busy that they cancel classes, why can’t the employee not show up if they are busy as well? Set the right tone and create that learning environment. 

Get Started 

The best thing you can do is take that first step, and this roadmap can help you get there. One of the reasons people leave the skilled trades is because they don’t have the education and training that they need to be successful. They get frustrated or anxious and eventually decide that they can’t do this. No one will ever be successful without the proper opportunities and support that they need, so why not be the employer of choice that provides this for them? 

Eric Knaak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Print Edition, Training

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