Unico Joins Campaign to Promote Skilled Trades to Young People

Round wooden Unico outlet installed in the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Photo: Rob O'Neal Photography



Generation Next program supports scholarships through mikeroweWORKS Foundation and This Old House Ventures.

Unico, Inc., maker of small-duct heating and air conditioning systems, has signed on as a major sponsor of a nationwide initiative to encourage young people to join skilled trades. The program, Generation Next, will help raise money from companies and trade associations serving the home construction and renovation industry to support scholarships for students pursuing careers as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialists and plumbers, carpenters, electricians, roofers and masons.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation will receive all funds raised by the Generation Next campaign. Mike Rowe started the foundation to help close the skills gap caused by the aging of the current workforce and a shrinking pool of new people entering the trades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 3.1 million unfilled skilled labor jobs today with an additional 2.5 million expected by 2017.

“Our product, The Unico System, is installed by contractors who we consider to be the ‘best of the best’ in HVAC. We are supporting mikeroweWORKS and Generation Next because we want to make sure that these great HVAC craftsmen have a bright new generation of quality installers joining, and continually improving, the industry,” said Scott Intagliata, marketing director at Unico.

This Old House Ventures launched Generation Next in late 2016.  Later this year, the cast of the TV show “This Old House” will renovate a house to showcase the skills that are needed for a successful project. Unico is donating a complete HVAC system that will be installed in the home. The Unico System is ideal for older homes that do not have central air; the small-diameter, tubular ducts are flexible and can snake above ceilings, below floors and in between walls, eliminating the need for soffits and drop ceilings. This “hidden” heating and air conditioning system provides even temperatures and operates quietly, making it a popular choice for homeowners.

On the show, the expert tradespeople from “This Old House” will also dispel myths about skilled jobs and shed light on the surprising benefits, rewards, and opportunities that these careers can provide.

“We’re very pleased to be part of this important effort to inspire more young people to pursue careers in the building trades,” Intagliata said. “Closing the skills gap is an important mission and the Unico System stands ready to support the HVAC industry and the building trades.”

FACT SHEET:  The Skilled Worker Gap

The U.S. is facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled laborers:

  • 3.1 million unskilled labor jobs today
  • 2.5 million additional shortfall expected during 2017

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Challenge

  • Dwindling interest in the trades among younger people

The Opportunity

  • Shine a spotlight on the dearth of young talent
  • Elevate trades as a career path
  • Offer more scholarships to young people interested in trade careers

The Scope of the Problem

The Shrinking Talent Pool

Six years in a row, employers cite skilled trades as hardest segment of workforce to staff, including:

  • 80% of construction companies
  • 84% of manufacturers

Our Aging-Out Workforce

  • 55: Average age of American skilled workers
  • Physical demands result in earlier retirement
  • Millennials aren’t picking up the slack

Why it Matters

  • Stunts housing starts and economic growth 

  • Impedes major infrastructure repairs 

  • Reduces competitiveness 

  • Results in lost sale of building products and services 

Sources:  Manpower Group 2015 Talent Shortage Survey; Associated General Contractors of America 2015 Survey; US Manufacturing Industry 

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