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Florence-Darlington Tech, companies partner to provide HVAC training

December 16, 2018
The Florence-Darlington Technical College Educational Foundation recently presented scholarship certificates to 10 high school students enrolled in the new HVAC Engineering & Technology Academy.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Job growth in the HVAC industry is projected to increase at 15 percent over the next eight years, which is several times higher than the national average for most other jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Because of that, two local businesses in the Pee Dee have come together with The Florence-Darlington Technical College Educational Foundation in Florence to begin a new dual-enrollment program.

The program is designed for high school students, and it was founded through a partnership with Florence-based companies, Johnstone Supply and Quality Service Company. In addition to helping design the program, the sponsors pledged a combined $20,000 to create the HVAC Future Leaders Scholarship Fund.

The program finished its first semester this fall with 10 enrolled.

Chris McDonald, owner of Quality Service Company, said the program will add 12 more students in the fall of 2019.

“Labor is a problem in the HVAC industry,” McDonald said. “The majority of our workforce is aging and looking to retire. We felt that there was a stigma on school in general. Going to school for four or more years isn’t for everybody. With this, we work to help identify kids that maybe weren’t classroom-oriented, but could enjoy a really good-paying career.”

Angie Woodberry, owner of Johnstone Supply, said the conventional four-year college track is not always the best choice for every student.

“I think it’s important for kids to realize that this isn’t just a second choice,” Woodberry said. “It’s important that we diversify our workforce. We have to do a better job in helping kids get a career that’s going to help them be successful.”

The two said the average wage in Florence for some in an HVAC career is around $50,000 a year and the median wage is expected to increase over the next few years. Johnstone Supply is a leading wholesale distributor of HVAC equipment, parts and supplies. Quality Service Co. is a locally owned and operated HVAC company.

“Johnstone Supply and Quality Service Company have graciously founded the HVAC Future Leaders Scholarship, benefiting high school students enrolled in the HVAC dual-enrollment program here at FDTC,” said Lauren Dorton, interim executive director of the Florence-Darlington Technical College Educational Foundation. “This scholarship offers the opportunity to receive both tuition and textbook assistance, while learning valuable, high-tech skills that will lead to rewarding careers. We, at the FDTC Educational Foundation, are very thankful for this partnership that supports education in our area.”

Sara Carpenter, of the Florence Career Center, said students interested in the HVAC program in the future may contact the Florence Career Center guidance Department at 843-664-8465.

“This opportunity was offered to all Florence One junior and senior students with the hopes of filling 12 spots,” Carpenter said. “The 10 students who enrolled were required to complete the application process, in- person interview, and meet early college acceptance requirements. This venture is a win-win opportunity for Florence One, FCC, FDTC and more importantly, the students. Students have the opportunity for paid internships and real world experiences with industry professionals.”

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