- Volvo Trucks will expand its diesel technicians training program, known as Diesel Advanced Technology Education (DATE), seeking to fill demand for thousands of technicians and diesel engine specialists.
- Starting in early 2019, Volvo-certified instructors will teach the DATE curriculum at Jones Technical Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio, and Western Technical College in El Paso, Texas. "We went through an extensive process evaluating over 30 schools to find the few that could meet our strict criteria for a premium program while providing a more extensive geographic footprint," Matt Flynn, director of Volvo Trucks Academy, told Supply Chain Dive.
- Students accepted into the DATE program will already have an associates degree in diesel technology, Flynn said. The students then go through a 500-hour continuing education certification course, with a combination on hands-on experience and classroom instruction.
Drivers aren't the only workers in short supply in the trucking industry. The American Trucking Associations estimates that by 2022, the trucking industry will need 67,000 new technicians and 75,000 new diesel engine specialists.
Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow 9% through 2026, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — slightly higher than the 7% projected growth for all occupations.
"As more freight is shipped across the country, additional diesel-powered trucks will be needed to carry freight wherever trains and pipelines are not available or economical," BLS wrote.
The technician workforce faces similar challenges as the driver workforce. "The average age of the technician workforce is 50-55 years old," Flynn said. The aging workforce along with fewer new entries is creating significant demand to fill open technician roles. Similarly, the average truck driver is 55 years old, and young workers aren't filling the openings quickly enough to meet demand.
The DATE program carries benefits for both Volvo Trucks and students interested in becoming technicians. For Volvo, the program is specific to its products, providing a "talent pipeline of the best and the brightest technicians for Volvo service departments," Flynn said. With technician roles filled, Volvo can more quickly make repairs, getting much needed capacity back on the road in a timely manner.
Upon graduation, students "are ready for immediate employment at any Volvo dealership across the United States and Mexico," he said. With a growing industry and high demand to fill open roles, students are nearly guaranteed a job after the program.
While the DATE program focuses on diesel repairs, Volvo has been rolling out several hybrid and electric vehicles, both commercial and passenger, that would require a different skillset for repairs.
"We realize that electrification will play an increasingly important commercial and social role in the future," Flynn said. "Volvo Trucks Academy will be prepared to meet the training and competence needs associated with those vehicles."