Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

As truck technology has evolved, so have the qualifications a truck technician needs. But has the industry done a good job ‘selling’ that change?

People in the trucking industry spend a lot of time and energy talking about the driver and technician shortage. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be making much progress in solving the industry’s people problem.

That’s partly because we continue to do the things we have always done to try to attract people to trucking. We  especially need to change our attitude toward technicians. As truck technology has evolved, so have the qualifications a truck technician needs. But I’m not sure the industry is doing a good job “selling” that change.

We need to ask ourselves, “What is the price point for a highly trained vehicle technician?” We’ve made some progress on technician wages. The State of Heavy-Duty Repair report by Full Bay states that in 2022 monthly salaries for technicians ranged from $5,672 to $7,434, depending on the area of the country where the shop was located. The report also looked at the average hourly raises technicians received in 2022. Technicians at larger shops with 41 or more techs saw average raises of $8.20 per hour. Those at shops with one or two technicians saw average raises of $3.10 per hour.

If you are having problems attracting technicians, you should look at your pay structure to ensure your wages are in line with those of your competitors. Keep in mind that competition comes from inside and outside the industry. Beyond that, review your technician job description. Does it accurately reflect what today’s technicians are actually doing? If it doesn’t, adjust it accordingly. Once you have an accurate job description, you can use it to adjust your criteria for recruiting technicians. The skills needed by today’s technicians are very different from those of the past.

See also: Clark: To attract job seekers, give them what they want

Trucks today are technological wonders. Some have even called them computers on wheels. If you are not reaching out to students at STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other technical schools, you are missing a big opportunity. Work with guidance counselors at these schools so that you can begin interacting with students and telling them about the job opportunities at your fleet or dealership.

The industry as a whole has to step up to make sure that technician training takes place using current technology. Having a student learn on a 20-year-old truck does not prepare them to work on today’s truck. If you want qualified technicians, you need to invest in their development from the very beginning, and that includes providing new trucks and current diagnostic tools and equipment.

In addition, having a career path laid out is important to young people. Make sure you are able to show a prospective technician how they can grow and develop within your company, and make sure you emphasize the training opportunities that will be available to them if they come to work for you.

Some will argue that the technician shortage is inevitable. I disagree. The technician shortage can be resolved by making a few adjustments to the hiring and retention process, especially now that so much innovative technology is making its way into the industry.