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Navigating a technician shortage with recruitment, retention

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Due to the industry facing a shortage of qualified technicians, employers such as fleets, dealerships, and service centers face immense pressure to recruit technicians that can efficiently maintain and repair their vehicles. Fortunately, programs across the country are training the next generation of technicians with the skills to work on the modern commercial truck. These technicians are in high demand, creating the leverage not to have to take the first available job, instead opting for the best available job. 

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One of the best methods for a shop or fleet to recruit top talent is to develop relationships with the influencers at leading diesel programs, both locally and nationally.

One of the best methods for a shop or fleet to recruit top talent is to develop relationships with the influencers at leading diesel programs, both locally and nationally. Get to know the instructors, program deans, and everyone in between. Help their programs grow and they will return the favor to your organization. Serve on their advisory boards and donate time, knowledge, money, tools and other resources to the program.

Many of the leading diesel and heavy-duty equipment programs place a majority of their students in jobs before they even graduate. They accomplish this by having a reputation for training skilled technicians and cultivating a network of companies that aid in the development of their programs; a great reminder that you reap what you sow.

If you make your shop an enticing place for a technician to join, you will make your shop an enticing place for the technician to stay. 

Let’s examine a few criteria technicians strongly consider when weighing job opportunities.

Growth

Give technicians the chance to grow in areas such as career mobility, financials and knowledge base. Consider the career ladder for an entry-level technician to move through the ranks and become a shop manager, head of maintenance or other potential vertical moves. Financially, consider offering annual cost-of-living raises and clearly communicate if overtime is a requirement, an option or not offered. If you want to distance yourself from the competition, consider a tuition reimbursement program, which is a rarity in this industry.

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Knowing that technology in vehicles is evolving at an astounding rate, how do you help technicians keep their skills and knowledge up to date? Do you offer a mentorship program for inexperienced technicians to have someone to assist them when needed? What training opportunities do you provide your employees? Can you promise technicians the resources to continually grow their skills and ensure they remain efficient in your shop? These are essential considerations to make your shop an attractive long-term fit for technicians.

Shop life

The shop must be an environment that promotes an ability for technicians to do their job well with a minimal amount of stress. Prospective employees will likely want to know they are entering an environment that empowers them to perform optimally. Have processes and policies in place to maintain a clean and organized work environment that promotes workplace safety.

Let them do what
they do best:
spend their time
fixing trucks.

Once in the shop, consider a technician’s concerns about the tools he or she will use. Do you offer tool programs to help them get discounts? How many pieces of equipment does each technician have to maintain? Which diagnostic tools are in the shop? If one shop offers a basic scan tool while another provides an advanced tool that helps the technician quickly move through the troubleshooting and repair processes, the latter will have an advantage in recruiting and retaining employees.

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For electronic shop equipment, give technicians the up-to-date devices that perform well in the shop environment. Hand-me-downs from other departments in the company hinder the ability to work efficiently and make a technician feel like they are not a valued member of the organization. 

Additionally, whether you utilize an in-house IT team or outsource the work, don’t expect your technicians to troubleshoot computer problems or hunt down software upgrades. Let them do what they do best: spend their time fixing trucks.

Recruit to retain

Remember, many of the benefits you offer a technician to join your organization will be the perks to keep him or her employed long-term. Remain up to date with the latest tools, practices, and trends to maintain a comfortable shop environment with the tools and knowledge to succeed. Keep the technician’s best interests in mind and you will enjoy a long, mutually beneficial relationship for years to come. 

Ben Osborne is the marketing communications manager with Noregon Systems

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