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There’s an App For That: How this Company is Helping Gen Z Navigate the Trade Industry

March 07, 2022

The following article is from Employee Benefit News

A little technology could go a long way to filling much-needed trade industry jobs.

Bluon, a mobile app designed specifically for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, is hoping their technology will make trade industry jobs attractive to younger generations. The platform connects new and older HVAC employees so they can communicate and exchange resources and clients.

“What we do is we provide this information and training to these technicians so they can come up to speed faster, get more jobs done, be more productive and feel prepared for the job,” Bunnett says. “Because historically they haven't had any of that.”

For years, trade work has survived on word-of-mouth, according to Danica Bunnett, Bluon’s chief operations officer. But as the workforce continues to evolve, that practice needs to evolve with it.

“Young technicians would have people to kind of measure them and provide information and knowledge and tips and tricks that you can only really get from having had multiple decades in the trade,” Bunnett says. “But with older techs retiring out of the trade, younger techs have been left stranded. Workers between the ages of 20 and 35 are trying to get information and knowledge that just doesn't exist out there.”

And it’s critical to get that information to young employees, Danica says, seeing as interest is only growing. Bluon helps techs build contacts within the industry and provides newer techs with material such as equipment manuals and workplace guides that comes straight from veteran techs, either still in or already retired from the workforce.

And Gen Z workers are eager to learn: unlike their millennial counterparts, who said they wouldn’t even consider working in trade industries like construction even if you paid them $100,000 or more, according to a 2017 poll from the National Association of Home Builders — Gen Z has a much more optimistic outlook of what can be achieved without a formal education.

Fifty-two percent of Gen Z teenagers believe they can achieve professional success with education attained in three years or less, according to a recent survey by ECMC Group, a nonprofit focused on helping students succeed. Sixty-one percent believe a skill-based education — including trade skills — make more sense in today’s world, nearly a quarter saying they are more likely to attend a career and technical education school due to their experience with the pandemic.

These workers are desperately needed in the industry, as there is a massive shortage of technicians, according to Bunnett — only approximately 300,000 technicians are currently employed. Not only could marketing the profession to the younger generation bridge the labor gap for companies, it could also meet the changing needs of employees post-pandemic.

“Just like any sort of field, you have to put in the hours and work really hard to earn a work-life balance,” Bunnett says. “But it is an industry where the techs have each other's back, and there’s comradery and support. If there's an issue, your fellow texts help you achieve that balance.”

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