Equipment Type

Technician Training Takes a Tumble

August 22, 2011

Rod Sutton is editorial director of Construction Equipment magazine. He is in charge of editorial strategy and writes a monthly column for the magazine, The Sutton Report. He has more than 30 years in construction journalism, and has been with Construction Equipment since 2001.

The irony isn’t lost, is it: “It’s a shame the college had to shut down its program, but this creates a great opportunity for people who need this kind of equipment to buy it [at] a discount.”

This quote comes from a news article out of North Carolina announcing that the 30 pieces of heavy equipment used in a recently canceled technician-training program would be auctioned. The irony is that 30 pieces of well-maintained machines are available, but the technicians to maintain them will no longer be trained at Wilson Community College.

I certainly am not blaming Wilson for shuttering its program. It was funded by the state of North Carolina, and funding dried up. But, according to an official at the school, it was the only program offered in North Carolina. Although only about 10 or so students were enrolled, most of whom left after earning a certificate rather than diploma, nearly all of them ended up working as a technician. The fact that one less educational institution is offering such training is a concern.

It should remind us that we carry some of the responsibility for ensuring these programs remain in place. An internship with local fleets, for example, might have shown the value of maintaining the curriculum. Partnerships with local dealers might have given area high schoolers insight into the challenges and rewards of a career in heavy equipment maintenance.

If nothing else, it’s a reminder that as another school year begins, there’s another class of bright, mechanically talented students who have never considered a career in heavy equipment. And they won’t hear about it, unless someone tells them and shows them.

Make a difference; look for the opportunity to introduce someone to the industry. There will always be quality used equipment for sale; we’re running out of quality technician talent.

Navistar has stepped up, partnering with a vocational program in neighboring South Carolina. Navistar will provide the engines, power-train components, vehicles and lab tools and technical expertise.

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