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Fleet technician shortage could impact fleet industry within the next decade


Fleet technician shortage could impact fleet industry within the next decade

Source: Fleetanswers The next decade is bringing quite a bit of change to the modern fleet management professional. Staying on top of these changes is essential to ensuring that the fleet can run effectively and efficiently.

For many fleet managers, the current focus on technology changes and government mandates has pushed attention to fleet tracking software and away from the people who keep the trucks and vehicles on the road. However, people are essential to run a fleet.

A recent report from the TechForce Foundation has shown that the demand for new vehicle technicians from 2016-2026 is going to be much higher than previously thought. This also means that the supply of trained professionals is going to be too low to meet this demand. For fleet management, this could lead to a situation where they have the technology to keep their fleet safely on the road and in compliance with current regulations, but no technicians to keep the vehicles maintained.

The initial report studied 2014-2025 and was based on Bureau of Labor Statistics information, focused specifically on the new technicians who are entering the field. However, this original report failed to consider the problem created with today's technicians take on retirement or decide to move to a new career field. The new data, which the TechForce Foundation used to create their 2016-2026 report, incorporates that information and shows a much greater deficit. Specifically, there will be a demand for 75,900 new auto technicians and 28,300 new diesel technicians over the decade ending in 2026.
Why is there currently a tech shortage? First, the growing economy is causing some technicians to look for careers elsewhere in fields they feel have better opportunities for financial gain. Second, the vehicle complexity has increased significantly, and a higher level of education is required, yet auto techs remain slightly lower on the pay scale than other professions with technical expertise requirements. Finally, a large number of existing technicians are nearing retirement, so a lack of new people entering the field is magnified by the number of people leaving.
In other words, the general community views auto and diesel technicians as lower paid, less educated professionals, when in fact this particular career path requires detailed training and in-depth knowledge of complex systems. Changing this public image is going to be critical to improving the shortage problem.
So what does this mean for fleet professionals? First, it means companies are going to need to get creative to attract the technicians that are in the field. Better, more competitive pay alongside benefits will help draw technicians to available openings. Educational incentives for those companies large enough to provide them can also help draw new technicians to the field.
Overall, working to improve the public's opinion of the job of diesel tech will also be helpful in drawing more people to this career and filling the growing number of openings. These need to become priorities, because without a crew of techs who can keep vehicles running, the fleet industry will suffer significantly.
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