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See StatsCan "Labour force projections for Canada." 2006-2031 also 11-010-XWB.

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Study Highlights


Study Excerpt, "This overall participation rate is the proportion of the total population aged 15 and over actively in the labour force. It is an indicator of the extent of an economy's working-age population that is economically active, and provides an indication of the relative size of the supply of labour available for the production of goods and services.

This decline in the overall participation rate is mainly due to the aging of the population, a result of low fertility over the last three decades and the steady rise in life expectancy. The aging of the population will be exacerbated starting in 2011, when the first baby boomers will reach the age of 65."

We started talking about this pending situation a long time ago and have not only advised our clients on its impact but have also tried to let industry grasp what could happen when thousands of small business people voluntarily or involuntarily shut down or sell their businesses.


Salary Comparison:
Why do some professions earn more than others? Why do some professions work at raising their industry salaries while others struggle to keep up with inflation?

"The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average yearly salary in 2006 for HVACR technicians was $39,710."

In comparison to 2000 data this number has not changed. We have yet to obtain earnings from 1983 but we suspect the rate has not changed significantly. 

Recent Update:
"Government forecasts say Alberta needs 400,000 new workers by 2015. But that analysis also shows 100,000 of those jobs won't be filled unless new strategies are engaged to recruit and train people from every possible demographic."

Source/Credit: TIP Strategies

RB, tell me more.


Robert's Industry Observations, Part II:
Copyright (c) 2007 Robert Bean, All Rights Reserved
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People who read this page also visited:
Robert's Industry Observations, Part I
Robert's Industry Observations, Part II
Robert's Industry Observations, Part III
Robert's Industry Observations, Part IV
Tower of Babble, Human Factor Design
How Much Does it Cost?
Making Radiant Systems Simple and Affordable
Skill Sets Required for Navigating the Future of Hydronics

Why are North American skilled labor studies important to industry?

  • The largest build up of onsite customized or standardized HVAC system occurred during the period between 1983 and 2005. 

  • The skilled labor engaged during this period and responsible for servicing and maintaining the inventory of systems, is unfortunately part of it's customer base  - known as the baby boom generation.

  • HVAC technician and customers alike, are simultaneously retiring.

  • According to the study, "The expected slowdown in labour force growth might have numerous consequences for the Canadian economy and society." (A similar situation exists in the United States thus similar conclusions are made.)

The Nub:

  • According to American studies, the average age of a construction worker is estimated to be 47 and over.

  • More than 240,000 skilled tradesmen retire each year in North America.

  • Information source presentation


  • Boomers born between 1943 and 1962 (est. 75 million+) are living longer than their predecessors and prefer to die at home as opposed to passing away in long term care facilities.

  • Residential remodels for aging-in-place rarely include HVAC upgrades to health care standards simply because of the lack of education and skills in this area at the residential contracting level.

  • The natural conclusion from this is; industry may face a period of time over the next decades where there might be insufficient resources available to maintain the heating, ventilation and air condition systems in homes occupied by millions of seniors who would benefit from upgraded HVAC systems.

  • The disconnect - One group having the skills is retiring away from the world of mechanical system, the other without skills, is retiring into the home with the mechanical system.

  • The extent of this potential stress is difficult to predict and should not be ignored - it is worthy of further examination.

  • Since the home is the single largest investment consumers have, we could see the prolonged disrepair due to lack of resources lead to building damage and in part responsible for potential market devaluations.

  • Improperly maintained systems also lead to discomfort, poor indoor air quality, and power and fuel inefficiencies which leads to higher usage of utilities; all having an impact on the financial, physical and psychological stability of the elderly home owner. 

  • The air side of the business will be in a much better position than purveyors of hot water heating systems simply because all the mechanical and electrical components are located within the appliance, each part being coded and catalogued with finished goods complete with  operation and maintenance manuals either onsite or at the engineering offices of the original equipment manufacturer. In the worse case emergency scenario it's just a matter of replacing the appliance.

  • The hydronic industry (myself included) however has left and continues to  leave millions of customized on site fabricated systems in homes across America.

  • This may present major challenges as creators of systems retire or pass away leaving systems in the hands of unfamiliar or unskilled trades people, most having to work without as-built- drawings, operation, installation and maintenance manuals.

  • Furthermore, the proliferation of parts and customization since 1973 may make it difficult for service companies to stock all the necessary parts to maintain the smorgasbord of customized systems.

A Few Conclusions (more to follow):

  • There could be numerous consequences for society, the HVAC industry  and specifically the hot water heating industry.

  • Reduced available skilled labor, can in part, be solved by standardized systems with productivity gains made by simplified 'appliance like' systems.

  • Should the hydronics industry adopt such approach to mechanical rooms the less challenges will be faced by the elderly consumer base in the future.

  • The uncertainty of pay rates for HVAC technicians has never been grayer...there was no significant rise during the highest demands in the past 25 years and we can not forecast what may happen over the next 25 years during a shortage.


Related question for industry, ask, "Why is one of societies most highly demanded important skilled services disappearing and those which remain earn less than many of societies most distrusted and disrespected professions?"

Our strategic planning business has solutions to these challenges.

For additional support visit our visitor services page.


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