Technician and driver shortages have been plaguing the industry for years. Now there’s a bit of good news, both in recruiting and retention.
This past summer, there was a bit of good news for those of us who are constantly looking to fill the ranks of technicians necessary to maintain our fleets. An article in Transport Topics cited a Department of Labor report stating, “Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow by 12% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.”
That’s really important since 67,000 technicians will be needed, just to replace retired workers. Add in another 75,000 mechanics needed to handle an expected shortfall by 2022 and you can see how good news is something we’ve needed for a while.
Changing the image
Companies are also expanding their search and looking at recruiting men and women who may not have much experience, but who are eager and willing to be trained. Many college graduates find themselves burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. A well-paying occupation like diesel technician is becoming increasingly attractive. There has also been a concerted effort by the industry and individual companies to highlight how tech-oriented and relevant this occupation is. New advanced technology supports the perception that diesel technician is a real career path rather than just a job.
Autonomous vehicles and collision avoidance systems are just a couple of the exciting advances that are attracting younger prospects. In fact, in August of this year, I wrote an IdeaXchange blog talking about the different ways companies are approaching the issue. That blog noted that hiring incentives like sign-on and retention bonuses, relocation expenses, tool vouchers, and more were helping attract new technicians.
Aptitude and attitude: both are important
This past week, Transport Topics posted an article by Kari Beeson, senior director of recruiting at Transervice Leasing, a NationaLease Member, that addressed how efforts at recruiting are changing for both technicians and drivers. She details how hiring processes have changed in the digital world, enabling prospects to apply online. Additional application avenues broaden the pool of potential employees.
But the biggest change, according to Beeson, is that the “emphasis is on aptitude and attitude.” Aptitude we already understand; it’s having the ability to do the job. But in a time when we need to fill these open positions, some companies have decided to find those who have a natural ability but may not have as much experience as was required in the past. These companies are investing in extra training and coaching to bring the recruit up to the necessary level.
When it comes to attitude, I’ll quote Beeson, “We need people with a passion for their craft. You can teach someone to drive or to turn a wrench, but it is harder to teach them to show up for work on time, be willing to work once they get there and, most importantly, to love what they do.”
We know this is especially important when it comes to millennials, a generation that has shown they are willing to change jobs until they find a place they “belong.” This shift has caused hiring managers to look for much more than just what is on a resume or simply focus on asking questions. They need to have “the ability to read a candidate’s body language and interpret how the candidate responds to probing questions. And a behavioral interview will take more time than a traditional interview,” Beeson noted.
What is clear is that following these trends means that you will be doing more than simply hiring technicians … you’ll actually be building a team that will stay with you for the long term.