Collaboration May Be the Solution to Diesel Tech Shortage

NationaLease decided to be proactive in its search for good technicians by partnering with Universal Technical Institute.

Everyone in our industry is looking at the same statistics; an alarming shortage of qualified drivers and technicians for the future. Here at NationaLease, we forecast nearly a third of our current diesel technicians will reach retirement age in the next several years. It’s not just that we’ll be losing these important team members; it’s also that new technology requires new training. Trucks are so much more complex than in the past, and regulations have increased in respect to those changes; so the need for truly qualified diesel technicians is greater than ever. When faced with that challenge, we decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns. So, to ensure a steady flow of qualified candidates that meet NationaLease’s standards, we joined the Program Advisory Committee of Universal Technical Institute’s (UTI) Illinois campus.

Founded in 1965, UTI provides technical training for students seeking careers in the automotive, diesel, motorcycle, marine, and collision repair industries at 11 campuses across the nation. The school’s course calendar is set up to provide a steady flow of graduates to the industry, with classes graduating every three weeks. That worked perfectly for us as UTI opened its state-of-the-industry campus just this past March in Lisle, IL just down the road from our Downers Grove executive offices. This close proximity gives us a perfect collaborative atmosphere and opportunity.

As a member of the Program Advisory Committee, we, along with the other members, review the curriculum, instruction, facilities, and equipment used to ensure they are relevant to the work in the field. We’ve also created a NationaLease-branded classroom that features a map displaying all of our locations, as well as member and organization logos. This classroom is used for the Preventive Maintenance class, which is a required course for all Diesel Tech students. This gives us the chance to be top of mind when students start to consider where they want to work at the end of their studies.

In addition, NationaLease is working with UTI to help develop curricula, assist instructors and staff in preparing students with job search skills, participate in career fairs and workshops, and provide speakers for UTI events and we’ll be working with UTI’s Industry Employment department to help identify qualified graduate for open member positions across the country.

As Dean Vicha, President of NationaLease put it, “We know that a large number of our current technicians will reach retirement age in the next few years. We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to ensure there is an ongoing pipeline of qualified workers, with the skills and attitude our businesses need. While we have more than 600 service locations throughout our network of 165 independent businesses, they share a standard for customer service and it is excellence. Providing our customers with flexible and responsive service across North America has been a key to our business success, and we cannot do that without the right technicians in the shop.”

What’s clear is that the trucking industry can’t simply hope that the technician shortage will correct itself and the qualified employees will be there in the future. You have to do everything possible to put yourself in a solid position when it comes to hiring and staffing. We think the NationaLease/UTI relationship is a win-win-win for everyone involved. Since UTI’s industry employment department will work directly with NationaLease’s 165 locations to match students with open technician positions throughout the country, NationaLease gets new qualified technicians, UTI gets a great placement opportunity which increases its profile, and graduates have great employment opportunities.

Making sure you have the right staff for the future is essential to your business’s ongoing success. Are you doing everything you can to ensure your future need for qualified diesel technicians?

Jane Clark

About Jane Clark

Jane Clark is Vice President of Member Services for NationaLease. Before joining the full service truck leasing organization, she served in executive positions with some of the nation’s top staffing and recruitment agencies.

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