191216046 | Welcomia | Dreamstime.com
6682983e329525407c9013a6 Dreamstime L 191216046

Clark: Diesel tech shortage solution: Create your own apprenticeship program

July 1, 2024
There are numerous ways to tackle the issue of the diesel technician shortage. Each fleet should determine what works best for them and follow through with a well-thought-out program.

Late last year, a LinkedIn post reported the shortage of diesel technicians continues to be a significant challenge for fleets. According to the article, “With an estimated 80,000 job vacancies and an expected additional 28,000 openings each year until 2030, the gap between supply and demand is widening at an alarming rate.”

Part of the problem is the public perception of the diesel tech's job and how to adjust that perception in ways that will appeal to millennials and Generation Z. Some organizations, including NationaLease, partner with technical colleges. The problem is that these programs only produce approximately 10,000 technicians annually, which doesn’t come close to filling the need. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t promote these courses.

One thing everyone in the industry agrees upon is: (a) we need to begin our appeal to younger people, preferably at the middle school level; and (b) we need to talk to potential technicians in a language they understand. The American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council has adopted the concept of gamification, creating a mobile app that allows players to learn about the basics of truck diagnosis and repair virtually through levels of play. Beginners start as student technicians and continue to progress through multiple levels of play.

See also: Clark: Maintenance managers can impact diesel tech retention

One solution: Start your own program

At a recent NationaLease meeting, Bradley Chubb, director of maintenance for Brown NationaLease, addressed how his organization was being proactive in its approach to this challenge. The company created its own apprenticeship program to develop the next generation of technicians.

Though Chubb noted that each entity will have its own maintenance needs and requirements, the basics remain the basics. However, outside of that, any program should build a curriculum that fits its specific needs. Brown NationaLease has set up a three-year apprenticeship program, acknowledging that it looks at this as a long-term investment in a long-term career. The program should have specific stages with hands-on training goals.

In addition, Chubb acknowledged that there’s more to being a great employee than just having the right skill sets. Just as in any other job, character matters. How do employees work with their colleagues? How do they react to feedback? Do they have a positive or negative attitude? How do they respond to change? Brown NationaLease has developed a list of behavioral competencies to assess what kind of employee they could end up with.

Chubb also acknowledged the importance of developing partnerships with local high schools and community colleges, to enable contact with students who have not yet made decisions regarding their future careers.

In the end, what is clear is that there are numerous ways to tackle the issue of the diesel technician shortage. Each fleet should determine what works best for them and follow through with a well-thought-out program.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Going Mobile: Guide To Starting A Heavy-Duty Repair Shop

Discover if starting a heavy-duty mobile repair business is right for you. Learn the ins and outs of licensing, building, and marketing your mobile repair shop.

Expert Answers to every fleet electrification question

Just ask ABM—the authority on reliable EV integration

Route Optimization Mastery: Unleash Your Fleet's Potential

Master the road ahead and discover key considerations to elevate your delivery performance

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.