Changes have already begun and will continue to occur, creating some challenges and many opportunities for growth.
Technology’s evolution and the population’s changing profile are already generating new demands regarding how contractors work and at the same time, open up new fields of work. Today’s contractor is already very different from the professional who was in the market a few years ago. And the changes in his profile will continue, due to the new market and technology realities, as well as the increasing demands from society and consumers.
Until about the 1980s, to work in the profession, it was only necessary to have some basic mechanical and electrical skills which were usually learned in practice. Over time, new knowledge and abilities have become necessary for the profession. “At the beginning of this new century, the same professional needed to be trained to operate the electronic and automation systems integrated into refrigeration and air conditioning equipment”, states Wadi Tadeu Neaime, president of Abrava (Brazilian Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Heating Association).
Nowadays, it’s expected that the contractors are increasingly multitalented, in other words, be prepared to perform various functions well and execute more complex tasks. This means that it’s not enough to know the basics.
Neaime points out that this is the path to the professional of the future, which should be pursued from now on. “This versatility should include knowledge and skills to handle the new refrigerants that are on their way to replace the current ones. Likewise, it should enable the professional to understand and interact with the quality of life in indoor environments and be fully aware of environmental protection in general”, he says.
The aspects highlighted by the President of Abrava are part of a transformation that has been occurring and shaping refrigeration of the future. Technological development, the rise of sustainability as a global concern and new consumer behaviors are driving the change. Other aspects also contribute, such as the characteristics of modern life in cities, increase of average income and educational levels in countries like Brazil.
All this has a direct impact on the contractor’s profession, but there are other facts to be considered, specific for the refrigeration market. To begin with, it should be noted that, nowadays, there is a much wider range of equipment and refrigeration systems that need maintenance.
CONTRACTOR: SKILLS REQUIRED
With the growing requirement level to be a maintenance and installation mechanic for air conditioning and refrigeration appliances or to work in the manufacture and assembly of equipment and systems it’s necessary to develop various abilities and competences. See below the main ones.
- Electricity, welding, equipment and copper pipe installation, gas pressures and charges;
- Notions of mechanical, technical safety standards at work and environmental conservation;
- Proficiency in physics, chemistry and mathematics.
- Logical reasoning;
- Manual skills.
Source: Choosing an Industry Profession Guide, from Senai
In addition, they’re more sophisticated and incorporate advanced features that require differentiated knowledge. The use of refrigeration in commercial establishments has increased a great deal and it seems that it’ll continue to expand, depending on the demands of modern life.
Other important information is that people with higher income and more information analyze more carefully the advantages and disadvantages of repairing equipment, usually comparing the cost of the service and parts to the cost of a new refrigerator.
This is a trend that will directly affect those who work in maintaining household refrigeration equipment: many people will stop repairing them. The above data make it clear that the future of the contractor is linked to his ability to work in the commercial refrigeration segment. The potential of this segment is much larger, but it’s necessary to reach new standards of knowledge and professionalism.
Using resources that make work easier and more efficient is another aspect where changes have already begun and are likely to be more predominant – and it’s necessary to train yourself to take advantage of the benefits that technology brings.
This involves, for example, working with equipment and devices that provide greater precision in testing and measuring or with alarms that indicate some kind of problem, knowing how to install them and correctly interpret the information they generate.
Likewise, advances in communication are already important allies and will gain even more strength. The internet will be the preferred location to obtain technical information, instantly, on mobiles (smartphones), tablets and notebooks.
The same devices will make it possible to clarify doubts and exchange information with other technicians as well as refrigerator and component manufacturers, including sending photos and videos showing the actual situation.
Compensation at a high level
Due to all these changes, forecasts indicate that what will happen here is what has already happened in Europe and North America. There, professionals who provide services of a technical nature are seen as specialists with a high level of knowledge, able to understand customer needs and find solutions for them, analyzing all existing alternatives.
To fit this profile, these technicians need to have excellent training, which often includes university courses and degrees in areas such as engineering. That’s why they receive a good compensation which allows them to live comfortably. The profession is valued and evaluated as an interesting work option, attracting many people.
In the first world, this happens with contractors along with plumbers, electricians, painters, car mechanics and many other technical people. A survey conducted by the Careeroverview site, from the United States, revealed that a North American refrigeration mechanic earns, on average, 19 dollars per hour (almost R$ 50) or close to 40,000 dollars per year (close to R$ 110,000 per year).
Professionals in Brazil are still far from this average, but, there has been, in many cases, a significant increase of their income in recent years. As there is more demand for their services, prices will rise: this is the law of markets.
In the presentation of the Knowledge Olympics’ latest edition (see article Olympics Values Who Studies), Gustavo Leal, operations director of Senai, highlighted that less than 20% of young Brazilians will graduate from a higher education course. But those who are outside university – which total about 7 million – aren’t adequately prepared for the labor market.
There is, however, a strong demand for technical level professionals in Brazil, which has not been met. “This situation can be corrected with technical courses, which are not yet seen as an alternative for many young Brazilians”, said Leal. With compensation up, valuing technical professions will certainly gain strength. This opens new perspectives for contractors, while at the same time generating more responsibilities: with technical training, service quality, care with the environment, use of best practices etc.
Remember that, to pay more, the customer will expect high level service from a contractor of the future. A future that is already being built and for which you need to prepare yourself!
A NORTH AMERICAN EXAMPLE
The Contracting Business magazine, published in the United States, annually chooses the best technical assistance professional in commercial refrigeration. The characteristics valued by the magazine to select this differentiated technician show a reality that, little by little, is coming here. See what the chosen ones are like:
- Dynamic and professional in all aspects of their business;
- Constantly seek new ways to improve their business, providing high customer service and quality levels;
- Treat their employees, customers and suppliers very well;
- Establish a reputation as excellent service providers;
- Keep an eye on the future and are attentive to market changes, reacting quickly to opportunities that open up in their segment;
- Follow a strategic plan and strive to have the best return on their investment;
Aren’t afraid to face calculated risks and explore new possibilities.