appliance training

Investing In Our Future

Written By: Besor Fayas, Reliable Parts

When I was a young teenager, some of my favorite classes were shop and woodworking.  I learned to work on a vehicle, understand the mechanics of an engine, utilize power tools, operate a lathe, and learn the importance of plans and blueprints. I was not alone; these are all things that enthrall many boys and girls at a young age.  All these experiences can be catalysts for molding and driving young people’s interests throughout their continued education and professional lives. Where would we be as a society if we did not know what opportunities were within our reach? Unfortunately, today there has been a long decline in this type of education and in the trades. We collectively as manufacturers, distributors, service companies, and trade organizations, together as a service community, need to help overcome the decline of our trades. This can be done in multiple ways. 

Let’s start by focusing on the need for a different model in education, as I feel this would drive consistent long-term change.  In the 80s and 90s our society, led by the Department of Education, slowly pushed the narrative that a 4-year college diploma was needed for one to be looked upon as successful or to have higher perceived value in our culture.  This pervasive undertone continues to impact the landscape inside our educational institutions today.  There has been a consistent decline in high school programs related to the trades and these funds moved to IT-related courses or sports complexes.  As well, we started to see a decline in technical colleges.  As manufacturing moved overseas many skilled trade jobs were on a steep decline.  Fast forward 30 or 40 years, and we have begun to realize that this thought process has put an enormous burden on our manufacturing capabilities and economic output as a whole. 

Working in the appliance service and parts industry most of my career, I have seen one constant; the need for trained technicians across the country grows each year.  Many companies within appliance manufacturing, distribution, and service have tried to address the problem by offering training programs, classes, and post-training job paths.  There are industry organizations like the Professional Servicers Association and United Appliance Servicers Association that help service companies with continuing education, assembling peer groups, and maintaining libraries of technical data.  Here at Reliable Parts, an authorized appliance parts distributor, we offer multiple classes monthly on a variety of brands and specific appliance types.  While these classes are great for closing your knowledge gap, continuing education, or new product introductions, they do not address the issue of getting the word out to our young adults about this line of economic opportunity. I feel this is where we as an industry, could have the largest impact for every minute and dollar spent.  We need to start at the root cause and work our way forward. 

Many years ago, I was introduced to an organization called SkillsUSA, that targeted these young minds coming out of high school.  You may have heard Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs narrator, discussing this very organization!  SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training.  Within SkillsUSA, we have the RCAT Program.  RCAT stands for Residential and Commercial Appliance Technology. The RCAT program is a full-length comprehensive appliance service training program supported by a technical committee comprised of manufacturers, parts distributors, training organizations, appliance marketing organizations, trade associations, national service organizations, and independent service companies. This committee represents a broad cross-section of the appliance service industry. The RCAT program starts, manages, and maintains support for technician education and training programs, in schools across America. As a 501c non-profit organization, SkillsUSA and the RCAT program depend solely on donations to operate.  This is where every dollar goes directly to the growth of our young minds. 

Reliable Parts, in the past, donated to various organizations and community projects.  While this has contributed to the advancement of our industry, we have not been focused on who our next business owners or technicians will be in 5 or 10 years.  Reliable Parts has decided to be a leader and set an example by showing their commitment to the appliance service industry in a BIG WAY!  In 2023 and moving forward, Reliable has chosen to focus on the appliance service technology gap that exists in the industry.   They have started to achieve this by donating $10,000 to the SkillsUSA Residential & Commercial Appliance Technology (RCAT) Program.  The donation by Reliable Parts enables the RCAT program to grow the number of schools that offer RCAT programs. The donation funds are used in multiple ways such as marketing, advertising, travel to schools, curriculum development, video creation, event sponsorships to promote the RCAT program, and working with the Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics to change the Occupational Outlook of the appliance service industry. We here at Reliable, want to raise the stakes and challenge other manufacturers, distributors, service organizations, and service companies to join the cause with us.  Donations are extremely helpful and the SkillsUSA RCAT program, led by Chairman Greg Doster and Co-chairman Mark Pollitz, is very appreciative.  I would like to up the challenge one step further: to ask appliance service companies, manufacturers, distributors, appliance sales organizations, and technicians to commit to going to their local high school job fair once per year to demonstrate the skillsets that are needed. If we can help these young adults see the benefits of a service career, we would beat back this gap we face today.  Please join me in advancing this challenge in every town across America!

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