The HVAC industry is not a traditional field for women, but this program is changing tradition.
Climb Wyoming, a nonprofit organization that offers intensive job training for low-income single mothers, is designed to prepare them for long-term self-sufficiency in well-paying careers. The program operates six sites around Wyoming and has been in Laramie since 2004.
The organization recently celebrated the graduation of its first class to complete training for HVAC careers.
Participants completed six weeks of training lead by Aspen Valley Heating and Air Conditioning, Artech Services and Laramie Mechanical, which introduced them to a variety of skills used in the industry.
Laramie Climb Director Katie Hogarty said her office is always doing research to make sure they're offering training for careers that are in demand. Traditionally in Laramie, the program has trained participants to work in offices and as certified nursing assistants. But office jobs aren't as plentiful these days.
"The way the economy is right now, these nontrade jobs are growing and office jobs are stagnant or not as available as they were," Hogarty said.
The HVAC industry is not a traditional field for women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.7 percent of HVAC installers and mechanics and 4.5 percent of sheet metal workers were women, as of 2015.
The bureau also reports the HVAC industry is expected to grow by 14 percent through 2024, driven by an emphasis on energy efficiency in commercial and residential construction.
“These women were trailblazers, completing the first Climb program of this type in Laramie. I saw their confidence grow as they faced the challenges of being a single mom or overcoming a fear of heights while climbing steep ladders. The program really gave them permission to be themselves and realize, ‘I can be myself and still be liked and successful.’ That’s such a gift in a professional setting, where if you try to be something other than yourself, you won’t find a good career fit,” said Hogarty.