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Northeast HVAC News

Trades school to open second location in Hampton NH.

The New Hampshire School of Mechanical Trades is opening a second location in Hampton to help with the skilled labor shortage.

Dean Millard, the director of NHSMT in Manchester, said Tuesday the skilled labor shortage is a crisis which is affecting customers in the Granite State.

“Right now, you’re not going to see a plumber or an electrician without waiting five weeks for them to get to your house, and when they get to your house, it’s going to cost more money,” Millard said. “It’s a trickle-down effect.”

Millard, who owned Millard Heating in Peabody, Mass., prior to getting into education, said he saw a similar crunch in 1997 and that it was hard on both company owners and their customers.

Millard explained that today companies are enticing people to delay retirement because there are not enough tradesmen entering the heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical fields.

“This is causing a lot of problems,” Millard said.

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Millard and NHSMT Vice President John Duff are contacted nearly every day by companies that need new employees or want to have current workers trained for licensing purposes. They said it takes time and resources for Seacoast companies to send their people to Manchester for classes. That is why they chose a 3-acre lot in Hampton to build an 11,000-square-foot instructional facility.

What Millard is witnessing is taking place throughout the country as employers have fewer candidates to choose from because many high school students are heading to college instead of into the trades.

Even with career and technical programs in New Hampshire high schools, the pool of interested students is small, according to industry leaders.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 median pay for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters was $51,450 a year. Electricians earned a median pay of $52,720 per year.

Millard said students with no skills can enroll in a training program at NHSMT, and are connected with employers, who often send them back for more classes once they are working for a company.

The initial courses start at $2,200, and there is financial help available for some students, Millard said.

NHSMT’s first school opened five years ago in Manchester and is located on Perimeter Road. Between 2015 and 2016, enrollment jumped from 607 to 956 students.

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