Someone once said, if you’re not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. While this is a cliché, it’s quite relevant to what is currently going on in the trucking industry. Because the fact is, when it comes to finding the right technicians and truck drivers for the future, the industry is in trouble.
Over and over again, whether we are discussing putting butts in trucks or technicians in shops, we constantly hear that the youth of today doesn’t see these occupations as attractive career options. In many cases parents and teachers are pushing their kids towards college or jobs they aren’t cut out for purely for financial reasons.
Where Have All the Technicians and Drivers Gone?
Still many don’t believe they can have much impact on the situation, but the truth is, we all have a part to play. In a recent ATA Technology & Maintenance Council meetings, attendees spent a large chunk of time discussing how to get the students of today into the cabs and shops of tomorrow.
Underscoring this need is the Department of Labor’s projection that between 2014 and 2024, 76,900 bus, truck and diesel engine specialists will be needed to accommodate both industry growth and workplace attrition.
Many wonder then where all the medium and heavy truck technicians that are graduated every year in this country re going. There are obvious reasons why these workers seem to be absent from industry shops.
The fact is, both technicians and drivers see a brighter future in other industries. Trucking has not yet done enough to convince young people that getting into a cab or working in the shop is a lucrative and viable career choice.
Taking Care Of Who We Have
Some then ask, do we really have a technician shortage or are we just not taking care of the technicians and truck drivers that are provided. Go to any elementary school and tell a kid how much a technician makes, then ask them what kind of careers they think makes that kind of money. More often than not they will say things like doctors, lawyers and engineers. For many, the concept of a rich heavy duty truck technician is as foreign as walking on the moon.
There is a way to go in getting kids of today out and into trucking-industry related jobs. From getting involved in local schools to sponsoring shop programs, much can still be done to involve the youth of today in the shop of tomorrow.
Trucking needs to start taking advantage of the opportunities available and start exposing students to engines and technologies used in today’s big rigs. After all, some of them might be the ones who grow up and design new engines and technologies.
New Technologies and Methods
No matter how well an OEM manufactures a truck, they will occasionally break down, and they definitely will require maintenance on a regular basis. The first step in ensuring there are people in the shop to address these needs requires groups to stand up and be proud.
One such example is the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas. Together, they have developed a mobile workstation called Be Pro, Be Proud.
Housed in a trailer with a number of different interactive and hands-on displays, simulators and other forms of digital content, the whole setup travels across the state and introduces students to the 12 technical careers involved with working in the industry, including truck technician and truck driver.
With initiatives like these sprouting up across the country, it shouldn’t be hard to woo new entrants from our nation’s schools and prevent them from being poached by other industries. With solid education and opportunities, trucking can be competitive in the fields where we need qualified workers.