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Recruiting Technicians for the Booming Heavy Duty Aftermarket

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July 31, 2018—The heavy duty aftermarket is booming, and many organizations, including Volvo Trucks and the Auto Care Association, are paying attention. 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.

Earlier this month, Volvo Trucks announced it would expand its diesel technician training program, known as Diesel Advanced Technology Education (DATE), seeking to fill demand for thousands of technicians and diesel engine specialists. The DATE curriculum will be taught at three universities across the U.S., and graduates will be prepared for immediate employment at any of more than 400 Volvo dealerships across Volvo’s North American dealer network.

HDDA: Heavy Duty, the heavy duty aftermarket-focused community of the Auto Care Association (ACA), is aware of the need for technicians and launched a new strategic plan earlier this year to find a solution. Sheila Andrews, director of ACA’s heavy duty program, says that HDDA has a special emphasis on workforce education programs and partnered with the TechForce Foundation to create technicians across all industries.

Additionally, the company is focusing on employee retention at shops, and ran a retention webinar in March, available on its website.

She says that the heavy duty boom is due to a resurgence of the economy over the last few years, and that ACA doesn’t anticipate this growth slowing down anytime soon. Trucks are the number one source for movement of parts and supplies across the country, and as consumers buy and sell more goods, the tonnage of these vehicles increase.

Andrews also says medium and heavy trucks have seen double digit sales increases year over year and month over month.

“Those indicators show that we have a strain on our technician and service side because of the strength of the marketplace,” Andrews said.

While Andrews says she’s seen many schools, like public and high schools, minimize their programs because of state budget cuts, community and state colleges are still creating strong diesel technician programs. She says it’s vital for independent shops to get involved with these local technician training programs, meet with these students and show them the advantages their shops have over dealers and franchises. J

“The independent aftermarket has such a strength over dealerships, franchises,” Andrews said. “It’s very much a relationship based business. Independent distributors all have created an incredibly strong supply chain based off of working with each other.”

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