Trucking Industry Recruitment: Diesel Technicians Shortage

Diesel Technicians are the backbone of every fleet, without whom your fleet cannot keep wheels on the road. According to TechForce Foundation's 2021 Transportation Technician Supply and Demand report, the demand for diesel technicians exceeds the supply of newly certified technicians joining the field by 500%.  It is estimated that this need will only grow as roughly 163,000 technicians will leave the field or retire by 2030. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for 28,500 new technicians annually, from now to 2031.  

Today, we will look at the changes in the field of diesel technicians: the good news, the bad news, and where we go from here. 

Changes in the Field 

No longer mechanics, today's diesel technicians must be digitally savvy. Gone are the days when you took things apart, figured out the problem, and rebuilt the system. Today, computer systems and programs are essential to keeping our trucks on the road.   

This technological change creates benefits and challenges. On the upside, the more technologically advanced the career becomes, the more appealing it will be to the next generation of technicians. On the downside, technology advances rapidly, and schools are struggling to produce students who have the necessary skills mastered to meet industry needs.  

The Bad News 

Shortage to Increase

Retirements are coming! According to the 2022 State of Diesel Technicians report by Randall Reilly, more than 50% of diesel technicians have been working in the field for more than 20 years. It is estimated that for every six people retiring, just two are coming into the field to replace them. The industry needs to expand the perceptions of the profession to encourage more interest in careers in the field. 

 The Image of the Profession

When the average person thinks about a diesel tech, what they picture in their minds is a "grease monkey." The perception of the profession is very dirty and very hard, built for people who do not do well with technology but are good at taking things apart and putting them back together. This perception of dirty, low tech, menial labor jobs is off putting to women and young people. In reality, this is more and more a position that needs to be good with computers, requires an analytical mind, and is perfect for people who can see both the forest and the trees. Marketing for these positions and outreach to students needs to represent the changing realities of the position today and in the future.  

Prejudice 

Women are a natural choice to expand the number of technicians in the field. However, many women report that they are struggling to enter the profession due to perceptions from men that they can't do the job or fear that the women will be injured in the course of their duties. Women face men telling them they cannot do this work, and some women have found it difficult to even get hired. To bring more of this underrepresented population into the field, we need to change the perception of the career as a “men only” profession and give the technicians in the field the tools they need to accept and adapt to the changing face of the workforce.  

The Good News 

Overall, there is now more interest in trades among high schoolers than we have seen over the past few decades. Not taking on large student debts is a priority for Gen Z. While trade schools took a huge hit during the worst of Covid-19, enrollment is rebounding. This increased interest in trades gives a window of opportunity to increase interest in Diesel Technician careers within Gen Z and beyond. Now is the time to get out into the schools to promote this rewarding career. 

How to Fix the Shortage 

With the increasing emergence of technology within diesel repair, the field is opening up more opportunities for women. Women bring a lot to the field; women's multitasking brains are well suited to problem-solving and do well with the small details of a project; they are more articulate and are better at asking questions to avoid mistakes. The 2022 WIT (Women in Trucking) index shows that just 3.7% of technicians in transportation companies are women. Women in Trucking provides scholarships to women for diesel technician training. 

Young people are the key to future-proofing this profession. If you are waiting until students are in high school to promote this career, you will find that you are too late. Most students have a clear goal in mind by the time they hit high school about the types of careers that they are interested in pursuing. Elementary school is the best time to start making students aware of the opportunities in this profession.

Extend your outreach in school beyond just the trade school classes—partner with schools to offer training and apprenticeship programs. With the changing needs of the field, students with a STEM focus, particularly in robotics and computers, will be a great asset to the field.  

Conclusion

Upcoming retirements and the changing needs of the profession are set to increase the shortage of diesel technicians. We must reach out to the youngest generation to develop an interest in the career, become more welcoming to women in the field, and better market the trade to clear up any image issues about the profession.  

Are you not meeting your recruitment goals? Join LzRecruit Network! Lower your Cost Per Lead and Time to Hire today. We offer 100% direct leads. For more information on the LzRecruit Network, contact us at 800-755-0623.

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Debra_lz

Debra Watkins covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone. A Nashville native, after graduating from the University of Kentucky, Debra utilized her research and writing skills in the museum and heritage tourism fields, rising to director of two institutions before returning to Nashville in 2020 to join Lionzone.  

Resources:

https://www.truckinginfo.com/10182221/how-trucking-is-tackling-the-diesel-technician-shortage

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/diesel-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm

https://www.ccjdigital.com/workforce/recruiting-retention/article/15301517/more-women-are-entering-the-diesel-tech-field

https://www.womenintrucking.org/press-releases/percentage-of-female-technicians-in-transportation-remains-low

https://www.ccjdigital.com/workforce/recruiting-retention/article/15301548/female-diesel-techs-find-challenges-in-maledominated-industry

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