Between 2019 and 2026, Hawai‘i expects more than 1500 new jobs in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning sector, with HVAC job growth on Maui projected at 16.2 percent. To meet this demand, UH Maui College and Maui’s HVAC industry worked together in developing an HVAC Technician Pilot Program to accelerate training for students interested in this career path.
Participants in the HVAC program complete 45 hours of online coursework with hands-on lab workshops, 15 hours of work readiness training, a 75-hour internship with local HVAC companies and resorts, and job placement, all within three months.
“I’m gaining the knowledge and experience I need for an HVAC career,” says Tyler Ubias, a member of the program’s first cohort. “These will help not only in a work environment, but also in my life, and my ability to help my family and friends who have any AC, refrigeration, and heating problems.”
With HVAC mechanics and installers earning an average salary of $60,880, the program provides Maui residents with a structured career pathway that pays a living wage while addressing worker shortages for local employers.
The program is part of UHMC’s Ka Holu initiative, a new workforce education effort accelerating certification processes, while incorporating on-the-job instruction and professional skills development so graduates are not only equipped for entry into their new jobs, but prepared for future career advancement opportunities when they arise.
Community partners can already see the signs of the program’s intended impact. Robert Torrez is a U.S. veteran and a member of the first cohort. “This program will help me to obtain gainful long-term employment in the field,” he says, “in order to provide for my household, grow my career and business, and ensure a prosperous future for my family.”
Making it a true community collaboration, the HVAC program is supported by donations from Central Pacific Bank Foundation, Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Foundation, The Freeman Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, Maui Electric, Startup Capital Ventures, Emmet R. Quady Foundation, the United Association of Plumbers and Fitters, and many individual donors. This kind of cross-sector collaboration is an outcome driven by the Hawai‘i CHANGE Initiative, which was created by the Hawai‘i Executive Conference in 2018 with the goal of addressing critical issues like higher education in the State. The collaboration and “all-in” commitment by leaders is evident in these kinds of programs, meaningful actions that are bringing about positive change for Hawai‘i.