Mack truck technician program addresses employment shortage

A new technician recruitment program introduced by Mack Trucks is aiming to change the “grease monkey” image associated with the profession.

The highlight of the new program is the distribution of a technician recruitment kit to dealers, high schools and vocational schools. The kit, which Mack released in December of last year, features materials and advice for convincing young people to consider becoming truck technicians – a field with a shrinking number of employees.

“The technician shortage is well recognized throughout the industry,” said John Walsh, trade press relations manage for Mack.

Mike Berger, a program developer for Mack’s North American Institute, helped design the technician recruitment kits. He said a primary issue the kit addresses is the negative stigma of a “greasy, dirty, bad kind of work environment.”

“A lot of kids today are very technically literate,” Berger said. “We address that as a key feature [of truck technicians].”

The recruitment kit addresses the “dirty” issue and others using dealer customizable materials featuring a recruitment guide, brochures, a video and Power Point presentation.

The technician recruitment program and the addition of entry-level technician training courses are to become part of the NAI mission. New technician training courses generally take four to five days.

The NAI was designed for Mack dealers to educate employees on proper service techniques in addition to parts, sales, warranty and business practices training.

“That’s a critical part of the overall strategy,” said Al Hertzog, director of NAI. “It’s not enough just to bring them in the door. New recruits need proper training to be effective.”

Hertzog said a dealer survey Mack conducted revealed the critical need for technicians. “There wasn’t a big pool banging on the door,” he said.

The recruitment kit also allows dealers to become proactive in their search for potential technicians. Hertzog said many areas targeted by the program are not aware of the need, which he estimates at 400 to 500 workers.

“These people don’t have a clue,” he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics will grow in the next 10 years. The agency reports careers as diesel service technicians remain attractive because they offer relatively high wages and the challenge of skilled repair work.

Opportunities should be good for people who complete formal training in diesel mechanics at community and junior colleges or vocational and technical schools, according to the BLS. Applicants without formal training could face stiff competition for entry-level jobs, such as those at Mack.

The BLS estimates general freight and trucking technicians receive an average of $15.62 per hour. Beginners usually earn from 50 to 75 percent of the rate of skilled workers, and receive raises as they become more skilled.

“Our motto is a four-year degree isn’t the only option,” Hertzog said. “There are other options out there, and this is one of them.”

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at [email protected].