Pleasant Gap, Pa. - HVAC instructor Ken Hassinger at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology is trying to take on the national shortage of skilled workers by making learning fun and exposing his students to professionals in the field.
Hassinger has a passion for teaching his students about the field he spent 27 years in.
"From day one, I've loved being here," Hassinger said.
Hassinger said the HVAC industry is expected to grow by 15 percent each year until 2026
"We're looking at needing between 30 and 40,000 new workers...We're not training them fast enough. There are not enough HVAC career and tech programs to fill them," Hassinger said.
Right now, Hassinger does not foresee the Centre Region taking a big hit from the shortage, but outlying areas could.
"I could see them getting desperate. How long from now? Definitely the next five to 10 years," Hassinger said.
Which he said will cost people more money when getting a refrigerator or furnace fixed.
Hassinger’s love for the job is what he uses to help get interest in his field -- which is spreading by word of mouth.
"He did mention Hassinger being a... very good instructor -- and (it's) very true," HVAC student Justin Dixon said.
Its also expanding class sizes, which he's had to increase to meet the need. He remains proud of a near 100 percent placement rate. Hassinger's hands-on teaching approach is another way he drives student interest.
"He makes the field fun to learn. And doing that makes people see that it's a job worth trying for," HVAC student James Lose said.
While he's just one person, he hopes to make a difference in the career he's dedicated his life to.
"You got to be passionate about it though. You gotta spread the word. People have to realize we need more of this technical training. It's critical. And it's going to get more critical," Hassinger said.
Hassinger also hopes to see the connotations of working in the skilled workers field change in the future.