Tenure of heavy-duty truck technicians has increased dramatically since 2018, according to the recently released State of Diesel Technicians report, produced by CCJ parent company Randall Reilly and sponsored by Shell Lubricant Solutions.
At face value this is good news for shop owners; however, it also can be a double-edged sword.
According to this year’s survey, 48% of technician respondents have worked more than 20 years in maintenance and repair, compared with 16% when the survey was last conducted in 2018. On the other end of the spectrum, 8% of respondents reported working in the field five years or less, compared with 29% in 2018.
Nearly 50% of technicians with more than 20 years of experience is a hugely important statistic and good news for businesses — as it means many service providers have a staff of knowledgeable and seasoned techs. It’s unlikely there isn’t much they haven’t seen in the way of truck maintenance and repair. It’s also likely it takes them less time to diagnose downed vehicles, which equates to getting trucks back on the road more quickly and creating satisfied customers.
Unfortunately, there’s also another way to look at the above data that doesn’t paint such a rosy picture. The graying of the truck tech workforce is a well-known fact in the industry. As these shop veterans retire in increasing numbers, who’s going to take their place? A shortage of quality technicians has been a problem for years. While service providers enjoy the experience of their staff, they’d be wise to keep an eye on the future and consider ways of attracting new talent. Methods include an internship program or aligning with nearby schools.
Additional good news coming from the 2022 survey is fewer technicians appear to be job-hopping. More than 70% of respondents reported having only one or two different maintenance/repair jobs in the last five years, according to the 2022 report. This is another important data point relating to the tech shortage. Technicians know they’re in demand and some will jump ship to go to another company offering more pay. Moreover, companies poaching techs isn’t uncommon in the industry, either.
In the survey, technicians were asked how they complete training in their current role. More than half (51%) said their employer sends them to training events and/or brings trainers to the facility where they work. Employers providing access to OEM/supplier online training courses and employers having company-side training curriculum came in at 38% each. Additionally, nearly a quarter of techs said they are encouraged to seek out their own training, with only 13% of responders saying they receive no training in their current role.