RECOGNITION STARTS AT HOME, SAYS AIRAH

Friday, June 18, 2021

Although the HVAC&R industry has found answers to some of the world’s greatest engineering challenges, and though it underpins almost every aspect of modern human life, there is one critical challenge it has not been able to overcome: lack of recognition.

This lack of recognition in the general community is common around the world, and prompted the creation of World Refrigeration Day, which is held every June 26. The event, which has been running since 2019, is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of the HVAC&R sector. It focuses attention on the significant role that the industry and its technology play in modern life and society – from food and vaccine storage, to cooling of buildings and data centres, and, yes, control of pandemics.

Tony Gleeson, Chief Executive of the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating, says that the lack of awareness about the importance of HVAC&R is disappointing – but it is not a new issue.

“AIRAH has been around for 100 years, and for that entire time, we have represented a hidden industry,” he says. “It is strange that a sector worth $38 billion, that uses more than 24 per cent of Australia’s electricity and that accounts for 11.5 per cent of our carbon dioxide emissions is basically unknown to most Australians.”

The Cold Hard Facts series of reports produced for the federal government also indicates that the HVAC&R industry employs almost 300,000 people . This is more than double the number of those employed by Australia’s fossil fuel industry – regularly held up as a vital source of jobs in this country – according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics .

“Unfortunately, the ABS does not provide statistics specifically on the HVAC&R industry, because we are not listed as our own standard industrial classification,” says Gleeson. “And that is what we would like to address this World Refrigeration Day.”

AIRAH is urging its members and the wider industry to make a statement by highlighting this vital sector of our economy in the Australian census to be held on August 10. In the field that records industry of employment, AIRAH is asking all of those working in the sector to classify themselves as “HVAC&R”.

“We know that our workforce is diverse and includes engineers, trades, business managers, salespeople, communicators and so much more,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons we have traditionally been split across other job categories. But if we can wave one flag, we will have a better chance of being seen.

“This year, we are saying that recognition really does start at home. When you fill in the ‘industry’ section of your census on August 10, write that you work in HVAC&R and help us get the standing we deserve.”

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