Practical start led Hollis to 40-year career
A longstanding employee of Bermuda Air Conditioning Ltd has discussed the changes he has encountered over the years and his desire for training and development to enable young Bermudians to enter the field.
Vance Hollis, field supervisor, has been with BAC for 40 years. He started in the profession when he was 15 and still attending The Robert Crawford School.
“The teachers sent me to Bermuda Air Conditioning once a week on day release, where I was working under Arthur Whalley, the serviceman. He took a keen liking in me and encouraged me to do a course in air conditioning and refrigeration. My teachers saw the potential in me,” he said.
Mr Hollis, 59, does not understand why local schools have stopped providing what he feels are important practical subjects for students and fundamental for their development.
“What's happening to the educational system? At 15 I did electrical classes, woodwork, farming, pottery, technical drawing and metal work, including core subjects such as, mathematics, English and science and also book keeping.
“What happened to the curriculum of today's teachings? It amazes me that today they have limited practical studies; we had it all back then.”
Mr Hollis would like more young people to take up a career in the air conditioning and refrigeration fields, and believes they should start at a younger age, such as while in middle school.
“We as Bermudians wait to late to teach our youngsters about starting careers. We should be teaching them at the ages of 12 to 15. We should have them out there doing day release work, even if it's half a day or a full day, to gain the knowledge and practical experience. It also helps them to see if they want to pursue a career in it.”
Mr Hollis was one of the original students who attended the two-year full time BAC course at Bermuda College.
“There was ten of us on the course and we were called Garth's Angels. Garth Harding was our teacher. He came from BAC and taught the class at the college.
“I remember going to the dump and getting all of our equipment and stripping refrigerators. We took parts from there to build simulators for us to work on because we didn't have anything.”
Mr Hollis mentioned that the college group are still very close and are planning to pay tribute to Mr Harding who passed away a couple of years ago.
He said it has been a great experience to work for BAC, but there have been ups and downs along the way.
“I had my share of racism working on some businesses that BAC was contracted to work for,” he said. Mr Hollis has noticed a change in the company. The biggest change is the reaction from the youth towards the job.
“I have noticed the youths' attitude towards the job today. They seem to just want money up front. When I first started as an apprentice I worked for $90 a week.”
He said it is a gradual process where you need to take a two-year course at college or elsewhere. Then, once completed, you start the apprenticeship programme which is five years long.
Mr Hollis encourages more young people to consider the field as it can lead to a lucrative career where you can start your own businesses.
“It seems like we are pushing out children to work for exempt companies and we aren't nurturing our children's passions. No matter what your passion is you should pursue it.”
He does not plan on retiring anytime soon and said his wife and grandchildren keep him going. He said: “My family is what keeps the flames burning.”
To learn more about available apprenticeship positions contact BAC on 292-0881 or visit http://www.bac.bm.