The latest AED Foundation’s report, “The Equipment Industry Technician Shortage: Reassessing Causes, Impacts and Policy Recommendation,” cites critical near and longer term workforce development challenges for operators of diesel powered fleets. Compiled by the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., it finds the industry has a job opening rate three times higher than the national average and will need to fill up to 73,500 heavy equipment technicians over the next five years. Among Associated Equipment Distributors member dealerships, nearly 90 percent have a job opening rate above the national average, along with a shortage of workers in their companies, and 95 percent see a skills gap across the industry.
“While this report highlights the challenges we face, it also presents recommendations to help us overcome those challenges, including strengthening our recruitment strategy, furthering educational development initiatives, maximizing data collection and creating roles for older workers to leverage valuable knowledge,” says AED Foundation Chairman and Intermountain Bobcat President Jeffrey Scott. “These recommendations dovetail nicely with the Foundation’s Vision 2024, which seeks to have 100 accredited college programs, 50 recognized high school programs, and 10,000 skilled technicians entering the workforce by 2024.”
Concurrent with its release, the Caterpillar Foundation announced a $300,000 grant to the AED Foundation to fund scholarships to high schools interested in promoting a curriculum that leads to a career in the heavy equipment industry. “With this partnership, we are taking a step forward to close the skills gap directly and educate the next generation of skilled technicians for our industry,” notes AED President Brian McGuire. “Caterpillar Foundation assistance will go a long way toward addressing the realities detailed in the report.”