High school to HVAC professional without the college debt

The next generation of American trade workers is currently being trained at a time when companies say they can’t hire them fast enough.

HVAC companies tell News 5 it can take weeks for repair visits because they don’t always have enough employees to handle the calls. The workers who do have them can expect to be courted with better wages, benefits and continuing education offers just to sweeten the deal.

At an Auburn Career Center HVAC training store where bent metal and loud noises are the norm, so are high school students who have their careers planned ahead of most.


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Auburn Career Center students learn trade skills before finishing high school as a way to jump-start a career.

“I wanted to do something that paid well and could get you out of high school,” Aiden Lanning said. “[HVAC] was a great necessity.”

“I always knew I didn’t want to go to college,” Tim Manseoo said, pointing out that his grandfather was an HVAC technician, so he chose the same trip.

Students like Lanning, Manseoo, and Drew McNeil are still in high school and come to the Auburn Career Center as part of their high school experience to learn one of a long list of professions before graduating.


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Students come to the program during their normal high school days.

“Everyone thinks you should go to college when you really don’t,” says McNeil.

They often have internships while they train, reducing the time it takes to find an internship before eventually becoming a full-time journeyman. The starting salary can go up to $60,000 a year, which goes even further as they don’t take on any of the college debt taxing many of their high school peers.

“A lot of the guys were pretty impressed with how much I already knew,” said Manseoo, talking about his internship.


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Auburn Career Center training can lead to internships that can quickly turn into apprenticeships and journeymen.

“It’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve here: to provide an environment for students to learn skills that will help them for their lives,” said Auburn Career Center Superintendent Dr. Brian Bontempo. “We now have more calls than ever before [from local employers]. ‘How do we get to your students? How do we get access so that we can let those young people come and work for us?”

It means graduating students expect and receive better wages, benefits, and additional training, even after being hired full-time.

Building the workforce in Ohio is one of the projects of Lt. gov. Husted, who serves as Governor DeWine’s director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation. TechCred reimburses employers for enrolling employees in programs that can get them new login details. It has helped AWT companies to cover the costs of the internship program and just opened the 10th application period in July.


Kevin Barry

AWT’s apprenticeship program allows companies to help their employees gain new manufacturing skills so they can do more in-store, progress in their careers, and earn more money.

TechCred’s success is creating more demand for large investment projects, such as when manufacturers around Mentor and the surrounding community took their own steps to create the next generation of educated workers in Northeast Ohio with the skills to work in that industry in the future. Alliance for Collaboration (AWT) broke ground on an approximately $3 million Transformation Center, a training facility they will use to help train manufacturing workers in Northeast Ohio in the technology they need for the next generation of manufacturing jobs.

“Not only do these students have great skills, they also have a little bit of influence,” said Dr. Bontempo.

At least in part because they work in an industry that cannot be outsourced.

“Everyone needs air conditioning in their home, they need heating in their home,” says Manseoo.

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