How Volvo Trucks is Fixing the Diesel Technician Shortage
Beginning this year, Volvo Trucks is expanding its focus to the training of skilled diesel technicians and service techs into the states of Florida, Ohio and Texas. The Diesel Advanced Technology Education (DATE) pairs Volvo Trucks curriculum with dedicated Volvo-certified instructors at universities. This program, which originally started at WyoTech campuses, will prepare graduates for immediate employment at any of the 400+ Volvo Trucks’ certified North American dealer network.
The Diesel Technician Shortage
The American Trucking Associations’ American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reported in October 2017 that the trucking industry will require an estimated 67,000 new technicians and 75,000 new diesel engine specialists by 2022. The shortage was also ranked No. 13 on a list of 100 critical issues in a survey by ATRI, in addition to a shortage of drivers.
Industry-wide demand for qualified technicians is raising shipping costs, cutting into dealer profits and lowering customer uptime and satisfaction. Fleets that employ their own mechanics will face the same problem as those who rely on maintenance from dealerships; difficulty recruiting qualified people to fill ever-increasing openings. In turn, those that are using outsourced maintenance will feel the shortage of available technicians when it comes to preventative measures and rush fixes. With less talent available to fix problems in a timely manner, the overall effectiveness and productivity of the fleet will decrease.
The DATE Program
Jones Technical Institute in Jacksonville, FL, the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio and Western Technical College in El Paso, Texas will provide program graduates with an associate’s degree in diesel mechanics while also receiving a certification from the DATE program. Training includes 500 hours of electrical and electronic systems training, software and engine diagnosis and repair, information on chassis components and Volvo powertrains. Students will work on both Volvo and Mack vehicles.
DATE aims to provide students with the knowledge needed to work in a Volvo Trucks’ certified dealer service department while also increasing the number of diesel technicians in the industry.
“The DATE program provides students with the education and skills needed to excel in a career that’s increasingly in demand,” said Matt Flynn, director of Volvo Trucks Academy. “Graduates of the program will be ready for a technician career in our dealer network, equipped with hands-on maintenance and repair training to service the advanced modern truck technologies delivering unprecedented efficiency, performance and safety benefits.”
The DATE program is a part of an ongoing commitment from OEMs to technician education and training. By ensuring proper education of certified technicians, OEMs are providing certified dealerships with talent that can last through decades of technological changes in their trucks. As a Volvo certified dealer, Nextran recognizes the ongoing efforts to assist recruitment for the industry. Barry Yeager, Director of Service Operations at Nextran Truck Centers says that they have already hired graduates of the DATE program through the WyoTech programs and that the current collaboration with school in Florida, Ohio and Texas will widen the recruitment pool. “The program as it now stands will be stronger than ever and we hope to recruit many more qualified apprentices from it,” he said.