Seven adult learners will complete an Electrical/HVAC program next month that will prepare them for a skilled position in the workforce. The 570-hour training course is the last of the COVID-interrupted vocational programs offered through the BOCES Consortium of Continuing Education (BCCE) to wrap up.
Prospective HVAC workers began their program through BCCE – an adult education partnership between Madison-Oneida BOCES and Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES – in September 2019. Typically a nine-month program, the course includes instruction in electrical wiring, copper piping, soldering, furnaces, refrigeration and more as well as preparation for the EPA licensing exam.
“They can leave here and be ready for any entry-level HVAC job with any construction or contracting company,” said instructor Mark Schoff, who has taught the program for 16 years and spent many years prior working in the industry.
The class was on track for a May completion when COVID-19 shuttered schools across the state, including MOBOCES, to in-person classes. Schoff moved his instruction online, helping students with their EPA exam preparation and theoretical work. But without the hands-on instruction that is critical to a program like HVAC, the class decided to take a break until in-person instruction could resume.
That happened in September and the seven students finishing the program in November have all since passed their EPA license exam.
Student Wes Isbell of Munnsville said he struggled through much of the online period but was committed to completing the program and working in the HVAC field.
“I’m a hands-on person so that’s why I took this class, to get hands-on experience while learning this,” he said. “There are a lot of jobs in this field if you have the right training.”
Just as the HVAC class moved to online instruction, three other classes already running in the spring converted their instruction from in-person to online in order to allow students to finish their training. The Practical Nursing, Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy courses finished over the summer. HVAC was the only skilled trades program that adopted a blended learning model.
A new Adult HVAC course will begin in November with in-person instruction, along with a number of other vocational and workforce training programs for community members.
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Seven complete BOCES Consortium of Continuing Education adult HVAC course delayed by COVID