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The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) participated in the Washington-Liberty High School Senior Experience Program in Arlington, Virginia, as a program sponsor. ACCA Manager of Communications and Strategic Partnerships Deb Weiner, was approached by recent high school graduate, Noel Belai, to participate and directly serve as a mentor for the 2022 school year program that concluded in June.
The duration of the Senior Experience program is three weeks, and it aims to facilitate the transition from high school to the 'real world' by fostering work, internship, or volunteer opportunities. By participating in the program, students embark on an exciting and unique learning experience that provides opportunities to examine the world from another viewpoint. Seniors can expand their interests and abilities in a professional setting with the guidance and support of their mentors who have chosen to share their knowledge, experience, and talents with Washington- Liberty High School seniors.
Most recently, Belai interviewed ACCA President and CEO Barton James, gaining real-world journalistic experience through researching and crafting HVACR-related questions. He learned about ACCA’s initiatives and priorities and gained an understanding of the global supply chain issues and how equipment theft and inventory shrinkage are currently affecting the industry. To watch the interview, click here.
“ACCA’s participation in the mentorship program is a reminder to high school students that working in HVACR is a wonderful career path that should be explored,” James said. “Going to a trade school or doing an apprenticeship program needs to be presented as a first-choice option to high school students, so they have access to all their post-high school options.”
“This has been an eye-opening experience,” Belai said. “In addition to learning about the work ACCA does to support its members, I learned about why quality installation of equipment matters. The pandemic taught us that people care about the air they breathe, and I hope homeowners are aware and have the education to make informed decisions regarding the equipment they buy.”
“One of the best feelings as a mentor is helping to build confidence within a student and seeing the excitement they exude when they realize their potential,” Weiner said. “Being involved in a student’s self-discovery journey is an inspiring experience. It is a wonderful reminder of humility and compassion, and that everyone has a starting point when entering the workforce. Helping to guide someone’s career path is an honor.”
Many high schools across the country have senior experience programs. ACCA encourages it's members to contact local high schools in their communities to learn how to participate in job shadowing and mentorship programs. ACCA has a published guide to help contractors establish local school cooperative career and technical education programs. Contractor participation provides students with hands-on experience and mentorship to help guide a new generation of skilled trades workers as they enter the labor market. These programs serve high school through adult students.
For more information on ACCA's workforce initiatives, click here. To sign up for ACCA membership to access workforce resources, click here. For more information about ACCA, contact Natalie D'Apolito, ACCA communications coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-824-8873.