The heavy-duty trucking sector should begin recruiting future technicians in grammar schools, says the new chairman of the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC).
Doug White, who is VP of maintenance for national armored car fleet Dunbar Armored, told Fleet Owner magazine at the TMC’s annual meeting that the shortage of heavy-duty technicians is growing and recruiting process for the profession needs a wide-scale overhaul.
“The heavy technician shortage is going to get catastrophically worse,” he said.
In the U.S., 77 million “baby boomers” will retire over the next two decades, with only 46 million new workers set to replace them, according to numbers tracked by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).
“That’s a deficit that is only going to continue to grow,” White said. “We can’t fix it tomorrow; it’s going to take long-term work. What we need to do is start recruiting in the grammar schools; we need to get in front of them there because by the time they’ve completed two years of high school, we’ve lost them.” He added that the educational system prioritizes academics in college over the pursuit of a vocational career, making it even challenging to attract young people.
In the same article, Terry Clouser, VP of fleet services for leasing company Fleet Advantage, said technicians and their ongoing training needs are of the utmost importance for the trucking industry; Everything from pay and benefits to working conditions,” need to be evaluated.
“We also must continually train them; that’s a cost the industry can’t afford to do without. Trucks are only going to get more complicated; on average there are 13 computers on board a commercial truck today and only more will be added.”
Kevin Tomlinson, director of maintenance for South Shore Transportation Co. and TMC’s outgoing chairman noted the industry needs to do a better job selling itself.
“We need to let them know what we as an industry can offer them,” he explained in the article. “Kids can go to college, come out $150,000 in debt, and go work at McDonalds. Or don’t go to college, come drive or turn wrenches for us, and start out making $55,000 with no debt.”
White played a similar note: “ (We) need to get in front of high school guidance counselors” who push college over vocational careers regardless of students’ strengths and weaknesses. “We need to get in front of them and the parents. We need to let them know about the opportunities in the vocational fields.”