That is insane. I have a small licensed a/c company and I make well over $100K a year legally and taxable in Florida. I went to a school, and it was a waste of money. I apprenticed, and it was a waste of a paycheck. I chose to do both routes to find the best way to help others. I got licensed, and then in the off-peak season, I taught at a career college. Their program was retarded and it took two years to graduate from there. I moved to the one where I was certified, and whittled the program to nine months (I was out in four, myself, because I was beyond ready many years ago.) It was fine there, but I wasn't making enough to justify letting my guys run my business. So I left, and do sub from time to time, but mainly I run my own company.
I have trained guys for years (and two girls,) and they move on and find work with bigger companies for more money if I don't keep them to stay on with me. But apprenticing is silly because they don't want to work, and they don't know enough to make me any money. They aren't motivated enough to learn, so I wind up letting them go quickly.
I have started training guys (like a school,) on a weekly basis. It costs almost nothing, I only get kids who want to learn, and that is because I take a deposit from them at the start. No kid is going to pay for training unless he wants to do it. He gets taught one-on-one, the right way, with no damned videos and very little textbook. It is all hands-on and note-taking from my non-scripted talking.
We run a few service calls, let him learn on an install, and he gets paid as for the work done. Plus, he gets trained.
A school is a commitment, and too long. Most people need six months; I needed four. I have known no one needing a year. The Union is nice, they train and pay you, but how much will you make? It is like getting married. If you are smart, take the test after studying yourself for as long as you need to, then get your EPA card. After that, take a job as an install helper and work service with a vet who knows his stuff.
But don't listen to me. I only went to school, taught in two schools, worked for nine companies, subcontract for five currently, and run my own licensed contracting a/c company. What do I know?