How can the shortage of qualified technicians be addressed?

As spring shrugs off the cold temperatures and harshness of winter, so do the vehicles that keep our world going: diesel trucks transporting goods, buses delivering children to school and cars getting folks to work. But who is maintaining these important fleets and vehicles to make sure they are ready for the transition from winter to spring?

Complex refrigeration systems in transportation trucks and ever-changing technology in all vehicles means there is a constant demand for qualified technicians. The issue our world is facing, however, is that as the generation that currently holds those technician jobs is retiring and subsequent generations are not filling in the gap.

This looming void of technicians poses a unique opportunity for those willing to step in and step up.

A 2011 Harvard study stated that more than half of the 47 million job openings in the next decade will require specific technical skills. The study noted that a traditional “academic” education may not be the answer to compete in today’s workforce, and less than one in four applicants are qualified for the jobs that are available.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in addition to openings from growth, many job openings will be created by the need to replace retiring technicians.

Post-Secondary Training

Job opportunities are expected to be very good for those who complete post-secondary automotive and diesel training programs, and who earn certifications like ASE. This is because some employers report difficulty in finding workers with these skills.

Those without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for entry-level jobs.

If both employers and job-seekers raise the standard for the profession, everyone can work together to address the looming shortage of qualified technicians.

Additionally, as dealers and other diesel and automotive employers seek to keep costs down while keeping their businesses moving forward, their best bet is to employ a technician who has received post-secondary training. This saves the employer both time and money after a technician has been hired, as he or she has already received a proper education, and likely already holds certification in a number of areas.

This results in minimized on-the-job technical training and increases time spent addressing the actual work.

Next Generation

Unlike manufacturing and engineering jobs, the automotive and diesel service and maintenance industry is one that cannot be outsourced. At a time when Americans are concerned about job security, schools like Universal Technical Institute (UTI) are preparing the next generation of technicians with the necessary training and skills needed to fill this pipeline.

In the diesel segment, UTI works with well-known industry partners like Cummins, Daimler Trucks North America and Navistar International.

UTI is staying ahead of technology and continuously providing students with a state-of-the-industry education. With more than 160,000 graduates in its 47-year history, UTI is proud to report that four out of five graduates are employed in their field within one year of graduation.

Patrick Butler is the education manager at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) - the leading provider of post-secondary education for students seeking careers as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. www.uti.edu. Headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, UTI offers undergraduate degree, diploma and certificate programs at 11 campuses across the United States, as well as manufacturer-specific training programs at dedicated training centers. Employers seeking qualified technicians can visit www.uti.edu/employers or call (866) 819-9407.

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