The National RV Training Academy (NRVTA) in Athens, Texas, is looking to expand its operation with a satellite school and potential additional learning centers in the next 18 months.
Terry Cooper, managing director of the school built on turning out educated RV owners, inspectors and service technicians, said it’s not so much that the current facility is too small, but with growing ranks of technicians seeking education and people from other fields seeking to join those ranks, it can be difficult to accommodate the time needs of people needing to maintain current employment.
“The way our program is set up, you take it in one-week blocks,” Cooper said. “You can take RV Fundamentals and come back and see us in three or four months and take Air Conditioning. In five weeks, it’s broken up. By doing these satellite schools, it’s a quick way for somebody to take a week class in Georgia or Florida or something and then go home.”
Cooper said NRVTA initially is looking for a spot likely in the Southeast and then potentially another in Arizona or Nevada to host training.
He said that nationwide, there is an interest in the career change from people outside the industry. Most common are first-responder types who work odd schedules or people who recently lost their jobs.
But an unlikely group of candidates showing an interest are morticians.
“When I first started seeing these folks, I didn’t understand it,” Cooper said. “But the more you talk to them COVID had really taken a heavy toll on a lot of those guys mentally and emotionally.”
Cooper said he also is supportive of a tactic being adopted by the RV Training Institute in Elkhart, Ind. RVTI has been aggressively pursuing getting its curriculum into high school vocational technical classes as well as community colleges.
Cooper said getting the information in front of guidance counsellors is a positive way to show them their students could have a potentially successful career without stepping foot on a university campus.
“We need to be in there talking to the counselors and saying, ‘Hey, here’s a tech job. Here’s an opportunity for that child to make some very good money,’” he said. “I had a guy come visit me who was in our school last year. Lippert was hosting a class and he was attending because he wanted the continuing education units. He wanted to show me his bank account so I could see how much he had made over the past seven months. It was over $300,000. He said, ‘I never dreamed I could make this kind of money.’”
NRVTA training programs help students prepare for careers through an effective, interactive in-class or hybrid-online format.
The school employs a market-driven curriculum to teach the most in-demand skills and offer a wide range of training programs to best enable student success in the program and beyond.
But before any of those steps take place, NRVTA has a little fun planned. “RV Unplugged”, an online reality show along the lines of “Survivor” debuted Saturday.
The series YouTube page hosts a profile of contestant biographies as well as weekly episodes designed to bring attention to the industry as a whole and NRVTA specifically.
The first season, made up mostly of RV influencer from the online world, will show their adventure ziplining and diving in a pool among other competitions.
Cooper said there will be a $10,000 grand prize at the end of the season.
“The first week in May will be the last episode that we play. We’ll also then be having the RV Unplugged rally so that way people can come to Athens and participate in the episode and we’ll begin to unleash Season 2 of RV Unplugged,” he said.
Cooper said eventually he would like to include technicians in the series competing in various events to help promote the lifestyle of being a technician.
“The more we can promote this lifestyle, the faster we can get people into the ranks to take care of these units,” he said.