Bringing MEP Skills Back to Schools

by | Nov 12, 2020 | All, Uncategorized

To any contractor with an active project, the statistics around skilled labor are sobering, combined with rising costs and new safety requirements. Add to that the fact that about a quarter of the aging workforce is planning to retire by 2030, and the “art” of their trades will leave with them.

There are ways contractors can combat the pressures brought on by this labor shortage. According to Brett Stacks, eVolve MEP Mechanical Segment Manager, they can equip themselves for the most efficient future possible through:

  • Better software (out with the old AutoCAD-based workflows and in with Revit).
  • Artificial intelligence for automating processes.
  • Training for companies and workers.

Training students in the art of the trades has essentially fallen by the wayside at schools nationwide. Recognizing the skilled labor consequences of that, Autodesk, FARO and eVolve MEP undertook a collaborative effort with trade organizations to turn the trend around, as described by Stacks in the Bridging the Gap Podcast, “How the MEP Industry is Turning Into a Family.” The group is trying collectively to move the MEP trades in a positive direction. One of the goals of the collaborative effort is to encourage trade organizations away from training incoming workers on AutoCAD and toward training them building information modeling (BIM) in Revit software.

The major trade organizations are working to supply technology to educational facilities, as well as basic knowledge about trades to guidance counselors. They include:

  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • National Electrical Contractors Association
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Industrial Training International
  • United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs.

Members participate in the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference. They also participate in American School Counselors Association annual conferences. They were part of MEP Force 2020, where MEP contractors learn from peers and get a real-world perspective during a true user conference.

As part of the Autodesk Design Academy program, students and teachers can access Autodesk software at no charge, plus free educational resources in construction. Online courses, curriculum, webinars, tutorials, projects, and contests are part of this outreach. Educator resources include lesson plans, projects and datasets. There is even a Tinkercad curriculum for younger students.

To generate student interest, Faro offers ways to introduce its products in education and give students hands-on experience with the latest 3D measurement technology. The FARO stance is that teaching students the concepts and applications of measuring arms, laser trackers and laser scanners will give them a competitive edge when they move into industry. Two case studies that may bolster that interest are: “3D Documentation of a ‘Vanishing’ Civilization,” and “Modern Day Sherlock Holmes.”  

As Stacks points out, the collaborators want to demonstrate the many types of career paths offered around the trades, so high-schoolers may be more apt to be interested in trade programs. It is being suggested that everyone in the industry – not just the technology providers – should step up and be a part of the initiative that’s taking the trades back to schools. As Stacks explains, any contractor can offer to be a guest speaker at a school and explain the many facets of their particular trade. The first step to student interest is understanding, and the Autodesk-FARO-eVolve MEP collaboration effort is encouraging them to put the first foot forward.  

The experts at eVolve MEP have worked in the trades, so they know the challenges you face. Because of their experience, eVolve Electrical and eVolve Mechanical development meets your industry’s needs. Users who compare eVolve MEP to previous tools report an astounding 25% improvement in profitability. To improve your bottom line, contact the experts of eVolve MEP today and learn how they can help you attract skilled labor.

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