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Hi-Tech Future Technicians Wanted

By on March 1, 2019

How Will the Industry Grow Qualified New Talent?

By Homer Hogg, Director, Technical Service

At TA Truck Service locations, we’re blessed to have more than our fair share of experienced technicians onboard. Sure we could use more, but that’s not what keeps me awake at night. It’s tomorrow that worries me. In my travels around the industry, it’s a rare day when I don’t hear some serious concerns about a lack of qualified technicians entering the profession. This pending shortage is very serious. Certainly, today’s modern trucks utilize advanced technologies that enable remote visibility to a vehicle’s operating systems and the soundness of certain electrical and mechanical failure modes along with some over-the-air diagnoses and updating.

ASE & TMC Join Forces

That’s all well and good, but a technician is still required to perform the majority of the troubleshooting before repairing the vehicle. Without a skilled technician, trucks and trailers would lack proper maintenance and repair, leading to a huge disruption in the delivery of goods. ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and TMC (Technology and Maintenance Council) joined together to examine this pending technician shortage and started plotting a course of action to help mitigate it. They conducted a survey within several TMC member companies. One notable outcome was that many companies are not currently experiencing a shortage of technicians, but rather a shortage of qualified entry-level candidates.

The two organizations worked together to identify curriculum changes that certified tech schools must integrate into their teaching programs to produce young technicians with entry-level skills that are aligned with future requirements. Enough candidates are currently entering the field, but they lack the electrical, electronic and basic Preventive Maintenance Inspection (PMI) skills needed to qualify for entry-level openings. This shift in the tasks taught in tech schools should begin to solve this problem, and none too soon.

Averting Disastrous Shortfall

If we’re unsuccessful in attracting young technicians with the correct skill levels today, the math tells us we’re going to experience a shortfall over the next 10 years of approximately 100,000 technicians. So, whether the problem is already upon us or continues to grow over the next decade, we must find the solutions that will help us attract qualified new technicians to this industry.

Maintenance and service organizations must utilize more robust training techniques to keep pace with new technologies. Many service facilities have relied upon on-the-job training to grow their talent pools. While still viable, this method must be supplemented by more advanced, instructor-led training, utilizing qualified experts. New technologies such as the Bendix® Wingman® Advanced, which combines collision mitigation and full stability technologies, and Wabco’s SmartTrac, which utilizes antilock braking (ABS), automatic traction control (ATC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC), escalate this problem. These types of software and hardware packages require more sophisticated, properly trained technicians.

Those in truck service leadership positions must remain focused on attracting the right technicians with the skills and aptitude levels for these new technologies. When you couple the Hours-of-Service regulations and the uptime demand to keep vehicles rolling with the shortage of qualified technicians, you have the perfect storm brewing. All of us must focus on bringing new technicians into the industry and growing their skill levels so trucks can continue to roll without unnecessary interruptions.

Maintenance Matters

Homer’s program airs on the Dave Nemo Show (Road Dog Trucking, SiriusXM 146), 8 a.m. ET, the first and third
Thursdays of each month.

Outstanding Credentials

Homer Hogg, Director, Technical Service for TA and Petro, has worked as a truck technician for more than 35 years. He is ASE Master-Certified, a Daimler Certified Trainer, and a member of the Nashville Auto-Diesel College Hall of Fame.

About Warren Eulgen

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