Although the focus has often been on the shortage of truck drivers, the real danger for fleets is an impending drastic shortage of technicians.
Having the vehicles in your fleet road-ready is imperative for business success. Making sure those vehicles are not only in tip-top shape, but are also compliant with federal and state regulations is the responsibility of your maintenance team. And with truck technology becoming increasingly complex, you need to be sure that you not only have qualified technicians; you need qualified technicians that are up-to-date on all of the new technology.
But here’s a major warning sign for fleets. If you are feeling a bit of a pinch when it comes to your maintenance team now, it is only going to get worse in the future. Although no one has felt complacent about a technician shortage, and the industry continues to try new ways to appeal to younger workers, new numbers just exacerbated the worry.
A recent HDT article reveals how the shortage has been widely underestimated. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, a report from the TechForce Foundation, a non-profit supporting technical education, focused on the number of those entering the field…not on those already operating in those roles. This meant a recalculation of the replacement factor…how many people would be needed to replace those technicians that were retiring, being promoted, or moving on to other careers.
Based on the old way of calculating, the BLS estimated that, over a ten-year period, 23,720 new entrants would be needed from 2014 to 2024. Using the new methodology, TechForce has revised the ten-year number, showing a need that is three times the original estimation. From 2016 to 2026, there will actually be a need for 75,900 technicians to replace those leaving the field. That is a striking difference.
Rather than simply sitting by wondering what to do, we here at NationaLease decided to be proactive. That’s why in 2014, we formed a strategic partnership with the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) which has eleven campuses across the US. We have been working closely together to equip students with the skills to enter the workforce ready for employment as a technician, from developing criteria to preparing students with job search skills.
At the time this partnership was established, NationaLease’s president, Dean Vicha stated, “We know that a large number of our current technicians will reach retirement age in the next few years. Finding replacements with the same high standards of service and technical skills is essential.” In the ensuing years, many of our member companies have hired students from UTI to add to their maintenance teams.
For some companies, there are enough concerns about this issue that they have decided to avoid the problem altogether by working with a service provider for all contract maintenance. The responsibility for keeping up with changes and finding the most qualified personnel to work on the vehicles becomes the responsibility of a third party, leaving companies the time to focus on their core business. If you are not already planning how to deal with this technician shortage, you don’t want to wait. Start planning now.
See how NationaLease’s contract maintenance offering can help keep your fleet road-ready.