The shortage of trained service technicians has been identified as one of the top problems facing the construction industry today.
John Deere is tackling this problem head-on by partnering with Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead to create a two-year associate degree program that will train students to become certified construction and forestry service technicians – and pay them while they do it.
Beginning this fall, qualified students can take advantage of an on-campus program that will help them secure an entry-level position with Deere’s dealerships after completion of their associate’s degree.
“The dealer will actually recruit the students, sponsor them into the program and give them paid internships for two years,” says Richard Park, manager of Deere’s Construction & Forestry Technology program. “When they graduate, if they’re hired by the sponsoring dealer, that dealer will repay their tuition over two years of employment.”
Prospective students can contact any John Deere Construction and Forestry dealer in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin for more information.
This latest partnership, announced last week, is one of eight such arrangements between Deere equipment dealers and community and vocational colleges around the country. The Deere dealers, including RDO Equipment, with 62 stores in 10 states, and Nortrax, with 45 stores across the country, have been instrumental in creating the curriculum and developing the support staff to run the programs. The other programs are located in Cobleskill, N.Y.; Milford, Neb.; Thomasville, Ga.; Waco, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Albany, Ore., and Coolidge, Ariz.
Currently there are about 100 technicians training in Deere’s programs, Park says. “Both John Deere and the dealer donate a lot of components and share in the cost of providing equipment for students to work on.” Deere also has a “Tools for education” program that provides students the mechanic’s tools they’ll need to work on heavy equipment. In addition, Deere has conducted free training for instructors at community and technical colleges, Park says.