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Trucking begins to develop maintenance tech apprenticeship program

Apprenticeships play a significant role in developing a highly-skilled workforce, and the trucking industry has started its work on a recognized apprenticeship program for medium- and heavy-duty diesel technicians.

Apprenticeships play a significant role in developing a highly-skilled workforce, and the trucking industry has started its work on a recognized apprenticeship program for medium- and heavy-duty diesel technicians.

During the Technology & Maintenance Council’s (TMC) fall meeting, the board of directors formed a committee to create an apprenticeship program for diesel techs. “The vision is to have an industry-recognized apprentice program,” said Glen McDonald, director of maintenance for Ozark Motor Lines, which is based in Memphis, Tennessee.

McDonald volunteered to lead the TMC committee. “We have 20 people who have already signed up through TMC Connect to help with the project,” he said.

The goal is for TMC to be a certifying organization of the program. “We will try to get a program you can just hand to a company,” McDonald said, adding that the committee would like to present a program to TMC members by the organization’s annual meeting in early 2019.

George Arrants, a consultant to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and chairman of the TMC SuperConnect skills competition, said the goal is to create opportunities for students to work in fleets and dealerships while still in school. “That has existed on the car side since 1995,” he said.

The role of apprenticeships has gained attention since President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 to expand industry-recognized apprenticeships within the United States. The National Office of Apprenticeship within the U.S. Department of Labor has set a goal of doubling and diversifying the number of apprenticeships by 2019.

During a hearing on Capitol Hill in November 2017, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said it is critically important to change the perception that college is the only pathway to a productive lifelong career. “This is an issue that is so important. We should be growing apprenticeships in this nation,” he said, adding that people should be encouraged to pursue job training that matches their interests and talents.

Trish Serratore, president of the Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation, said apprenticeships have an essential role within the trucking industry. The goal is to make sure an apprenticeship program isn’t onerous on the business or the individual, she said. “It has a place, but needs to be scalable,” Serratore added.

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