HDT Looks at The Schilli Companies’ Efforts to Address Industry’s Other Talent Shortage

When it comes to losing sleep over how to recruit and retain skilled employees in the trucking industry, fleet managers and directors certainly aren’t alone. Shop managers and fleet maintenance directors share in this insomnia due to the growing shortage of truck and equipment technicians and diesel engine specialists. 

Heavy Duty Trucking, which has been running a multi-part series on the driver shortage affecting the trucking industry, has chosen to tackle the technician shortage with the first in a series of articles written by contributing editor Ronnie Garrett. Part one of this series, entitled “Battling for Diesel Techs,” appears in the magazine’s March issue (beginning on page 64). It showcases efforts by several companies, including a Daseke operating company — The Schilli Companies — to deal with the shortfall.

 Citing an October 2017 report on the trucking industry’s top issues published by the American Transportation Research Institute as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Garrett outlines the considerable scale of the shortage. By 2022, the trucking industry will need about 67,000 new technicians and 75,000 new diesel engine specialists. Why? The increasing complexity of the nation’s stringent emission requirements plays a role. But so too does the development of new, complex truck tech, such as collision avoidance, smart cruising, idle management, terrain mapping, ELDs and vehicle monitoring systems. 

Garrett goes on to discuss one initiative being made by The Schilli Companies and its NationaLease member company, Schilli NationaLease. One of the main challenges facing the industry is recruitment. For some young people, technician jobs are associated with a stigma that interferes with them appreciating the career potential available within the field. However, as HDT reports, the Schilli Companies’ unique apprentice program is helping to change those attitudes. As Garrett writes:

“On any given day, in any given year, Penske Truck Leasing has a truck maintenance workforce of 8,100. In 2017, the company added 2,200 diesel techs to accommodate growth, and the Pennsylvania-headquartered firm is expecting to add 2,500 more for the same reason in 2018. As of today, the company has 800 openings for diesel techs in the United States, Canada and parts of Mexico — a combination of new hires and open positions due to retirements and turnover.

 This is the face of the diesel technician shortage in 2018, and it’s only going to get worse, predicts Gregg Mangione, senior vice president of maintenance for Penske.

His prediction echoes that of the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Industry Issues report, released in October 2017. Though the industry has trained much of its focus on the shortage of qualified truck drivers, another shortfall exists — the industry needs more diesel technicians…

… Jake Rudisill, general manager of leasing and maintenance of Schilli NationaLease with The Schilli Companies, agrees [about changing society’s view of a diesel technician as a dirty, low-paying and unrewarding job]…”  

To read more, read the entire story on the Heavy Duty Trucking website. Their technician shortage series continues with part two, again featuring The Schilli Companies, which is scheduled to run in their May issue. Free subscriptions to Heavy Duty Trucking are available to those who qualify. For more information, visit https://bob.dragonforms.com/init.do?omedasite=BOB6128_HDland.

Used by permission. Copyright 2018 – Bobit Business Media and Heavy Duty Trucking.

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