I recently saw a press release that suggested we use the term “new collar” rather than “blue collar” to describe truck technicians. The release was from TechForce Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on championing students to and through technical education into careers as transportation technicians.
Over Labor Day the group launched a campaign called “Because I’m a Tech” to educate teens and parents that a technical education and career are a viable path to a rewarding future and that there are good job opportunities in the transportation industry.
I’ve talked before about the need for all of us in the industry to spread the word about the great jobs available in trucking. What I like about this initiative from TechForce is that it is focusing some of its attention on parents. One of its goals is to teach parents and their teens about social and economic achievements that can await them by pursuing a technical education and career as a professional, trained technician. If we are going to be successful attracting more young people to our industry, we have to get parents involved and help them understand the great opportunities that await their children if they choose to pursue a job in trucking.
We need to help change the obsolete view that transportation jobs are low-tech jobs and educate parents and their children about just how high tech our industry is. According to TechForce, “Today’s vehicles have millions more lines of code than the spaceship that put man on the moon.” And while those of us in the industry may know that, the general public probably does not.
TechForce plans to “connect students who are hands-on learners and problem-solvers, who love fixing and making things work, who have an affinity for computers, diagnostics and technology to an education and career that fits them.”
The group also plans to point out that a technical education usually costs less than a four-year college education and that students with a technical education are often able to pay their debt off more quickly in part because there are so many jobs available for them once they graduate.
I applaud TechForce for its efforts and encourage all of us in the transportation industry to start talking (or continue talking) about just how great this industry is and about the realities of a technical career in trucking. If we don't start bragging about our opportunities, who will?