Fleet Managers Rethink Outsourcing Maintenance and Repair
First the good news. Rod Sutton, editor of Construction Equipment magazine, revealed in his blog that 67% of Construction Equipment subscribers say they are outsourcing more maintenance and repair work. Between the growth in rental and added outsourcing of service work, end-users appear to be sending a clear message to dealers and manufacturers that they are less willing to manage the risk and burdens of heavy machine ownership. This should be great news for dealers, but is it?
You already know the bad news. The industry has struggled to attract young people to careers as technicians. Shortages already exist. It’s not clear how dealers will manage more business from end-users who have traditionally performed their own work?
Groups like The AED Foundation are working to improve the supply of technicians. But they can’t do it alone. To effectively recruit technicians, perceptions need to change. Manufacturers and dealers need to make it a priority to get involved with high schools and grade schools to change perceptions about careers in the heavy equipment industry.
Here are the messages that need to be driven home:
More than a Job, a Career
Parents and students often have a perception that a technician position is a dead end job. The AED Foundation’s career path chart demonstrates that this isn’t true. Look for your examples of career path growth in your own firm. Allyn Archer, the president and chief operating officer of Holt Cat, one of the largest Caterpillar dealers in the world, began his career as a technician.
A Better ROI than Many Four Year Degrees
With high unemployment for some college degrees, parents are increasingly questioning the value of a four-year degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, heavy vehicle mechanics earned an average of $22.48 per hour, or $46,770 per year, as of 2011. The highest-paid 10 percent of mobile heavy vehicle mechanics earned $31.37 or more per hour, or $65,250 or more per year. This is considerable return on investment for a two-year degree program.
It’s a High-Tech Field
Construction Equipment has become increasingly sophisticated and computerized. Today’s technicians need to be as at ease with a laptop as they are with a wrench. Advancements in technology require constant updating of knowledge and skills. Colleges with construction equipment technology programs accredited by AED, meet rigorous program requirements based on technical education standards established by industry representatives
The shortage of skilled technicians may be too big for anyone in the industry to solve alone. But by working together, sharing ideas and resources with peers, dealers and manufacturers may secure their own future.