Make a commitment to support the service trades
By Besor Fayas, Reliable Parts
When I was a teenager, my favorite classes were shop and woodworking. I learned to work on a vehicle, understand the mechanics of an engine, utilize power tools, operate a lathe and learn the importance of plans and blueprints.
All these experiences can be catalysts for molding young people’s interests as it relates to both their education and professional lives. Unfortunately, today there has been a long decline in this type of education and in the trades. As manufacturers, distributors, service companies and trade organizations, we need to act collectively as a service community to help overcome this decline and devaluation of our trades.
The problem can be addressed in many ways. Let’s start by focusing on the need for a different model of higher education. In the ’80s and ’90s our society, led by the Department of Education, slowly pushed the narrative that a four-year college diploma was needed for one to be looked upon as successful, and was perceived to have a higher value than other alternatives. This pervasive undertone continues to impact the landscape inside our educational institutions today.
The effect of this has been a consistent decline in high school programs related to the trades. In addition, funding for these programs has been reallocated to IT-related courses or sports complexes. This precipitated a decline in technical colleges. The movement was compounded by manufacturing moving overseas, putting many skilled trade jobs in a freefall.
Fast forward 30 or 40 years and we have now begun to realize that this thought process has put an enormous burden on our manufacturing capabilities and economic output as a whole.
Working in the appliance service and parts industry most of my career, I have seen one constant: the growing demand for trained technicians across the country each year. Many companies within appliance manufacturing, distribution and service have tried to address the problem by offering training programs, classes and after-training job paths. There are industry organizations like,Professional Servicers Association (PSA) and United Appliance Servicers Association (UASA) that help service companies with continuing education, assembling peer groups and maintaining libraries of technical data.
Here at Reliable Parts, an authorized appliance parts distributor, we offer multiple classes monthly on a variety of brands and specific appliance types. While these classes are great for closing your knowledge gap, continuing education or new product introductions, they do not address the issue of getting the word out to our young adults about the tremendous economic opportunity in this field is where we are gapping.
I feel this is where we as an industry could have the largest impact for every minute and dollar spent. We need to start at the root cause and work our way forward.
Many years ago I was introduced to an organization called SkillsUSA, which targeted these young minds coming out of high school. You may have heard TV host Mike Rowe talk about the nonprofit organization, which is focused on improving the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of leadership, employability and technical and professional skills training.
Within SkillsUSA there is a program for Residential and Commercial Appliance Technology (RCAT). The RCAT program is a full-length, comprehensive appliance service training program that starts, manages and maintains support for technician education and training. SkillsUSA and the RCAT program depend solely on donations to operate. Every dollar RCAT spends goes directly to the growth of developing young minds focused on the trades.
Reliable Parts has previously donated to various organizations and community projects. While this has contributed to the advancement of our industry, we have not been focused on who our next business owners or technicians will be in five or 10 years. Our company has therefore decided to be a leader and set an example by showing its commitment to the appliance service industry. To that end, in 2023 and beyond, Reliable has chosen to focus on the appliance service technology gap that exists in the industry, and kicked things off by donating $10,000 to the SkillsUSA/RCAT program. The donation will help expand the the number of schools that offer RCAT programs and will be used in multiple ways to help to change the occupational outlook of the appliance service industry.
We here at Reliable want to raise the stakes and challenge other manufacturers, distributors, service organizations and service companies to join the cause with us. Donations are extremely helpful and go a long way to closing the recruiting challenge we all face.
I would like to take the challenge one step further and ask every stakeholder in this industry to go to their local high school job fair once a year to demonstrate the skillsets that are needed. If we can help these young adults see the benefits of a service career, we would beat back the talent gap we face today.
Please join me in advancing this challenge in every town across America!
Besor Fayas is vice president of sales for the Dallas-based Reliable Parts, a BrandSource partner and one of the largest appliance parts distributors in North America. A 19-year industry veteran, he has also served as a technical judge for SkillsUSA, a special advisor to the North Texas Community College Appliance Repair Program, and is active in the Appliance Parts Distributor Association. Contact Besor at (877) 733-9241 x2831 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.