Demographic data shows workforce in its prime, says ARC

Australia’s HVAC&R workforce may not be as old as previously believed, with new figures released by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) showing that the dominant age group for refrigerant handling licence (RHL) holders is 30–39 years old.

ARC CEO Glenn Evans says the figures challenge the concept of an ageing workforce, since more than half of licensed technicians are under 40.

“Although in a sense any workforce will always be ageing, ARC’s figures show that we have a vibrant, relatively youthful workforce in the climate control sector,” he says.

“Of the current licence holders, fully 30 per cent are in the 30–39 age group, and a further 21 per cent are under 30 – not even halfway through their working lives.

“That means we have 51 per cent of our workforce under 40, while the number grows to 63 per cent if we look at those under 50 – and most 50-year-olds would hardly consider themselves old.

“At the same time, training licences account for 9 per cent of all RHLs, which suggests that efforts by employers to recruit and retain new technicians are enjoying a level of success.”

At this stage, information on how the ages are split across all licence types is not available, but it is understood that the figures released by the ARC are part of a larger government project to analyse ARC licence-holder data.

Evans says the figures are encouraging for an industry which is crucial to an energy-efficient Australia heading towards net zero carbon emissions.

“Our sector’s inclusion in the Green Energy Priority List for apprenticeships confirms the need for more apprentices, and ARC’s figures show we are heading in the right direction,” he says.

“The challenge now is to ensure our industry has the training for both new apprentices and mid-career upskilling so our specialised trade keeps pace with new technology and remains relevant in a low-energy future.

“As climate control becomes an ever-more specialised area, it is good to see that the vast majority of our technicians are in the prime of life and well up to the challenges that lie ahead.”

The age-group data is available at the ARC website.

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