In honor of its 50th anniversary, Volvo kicked off its first in a series of educational workshops for technical students this month. Volvo Construction Equipment is touring North America in a golden hauler, making stops at dealerships and welcoming local chapters of SkillsUSA and Skills Canada along the way. Volvo's goal is to connect students with an interest in the trades with the many opportunities available in the construction industry. Volvo's gold-painted articulated hauler catches their attention.
Volvo's efforts to close the 10 million person skilled labor gap
“By 2020, we expect there to be a 10 million-person shortage in our skilled workforce,” said Peyton Holland, Executive Director for SkillsUSA North Carolina at the event. “That’s what makes this partnership with Volvo Construction Equipment so tremendous — students get to meet real people, learn about real careers, and hear real stories about how people developed their own career paths.”
Growing awareness about the skilled labor shortage and helping bridge the gap between students, training and professional opportunities is an imperative for construction equipment dealerships. According to an Associated Equipment Distributors report released this year, the economy is losing out on $2.4 billion every year as a result of dealers’ inability to find and retain skilled workers.
In early April approximately 25 students from the automotive program at Broughton High School and the Diesel Tech program at Wilkes Community College visited ASC Construction Equipment USA dealership in Raleigh, North Carolina.
There they toured the workshop where students had the opportunity to gain insight on the important role technicians play in keeping equipment up and running so that contractors can keep infrastructure and new building jobsites moving.
Students and teachers toured the telematics bay for a close up look at how telemetry and computers are changing the construction industry. Telematics is a newer area of the construction industry — offering remote monitoring of machines, predictive maintenance, and more — and gives students who are moving into the trades an opportunity that didn’t exist just 10 years ago.
“I didn’t realize how technically advanced off-road equipment is,” said Ron Morris, automotive teacher at Broughton. “All of the computerized engine control is very much like what we teach in the automotive program. It was very beneficial for me and the students to see how what we’re studying translates into heavy equipment.”
“The best part of this event was the one-on-one interaction we were able to have with the employees,” John Martin, a Broughton student said. “We were able to hear about their experiences first hand, on a more personal level, and really understand what drives them to do what they do.”
One of the advantages of these ongoing Volvo dealership / SkillsUSA and education partnerships is the awareness that the program brings to local teachers about construction industry opportunities. Teachers are perhaps the strongest conduit to helping students understand the breadth of opportunity available to them in the industry.
“These students have chosen to study a trade, and I commend them for that,” said James Crane, ASC regional branch manager. “The more they continue to learn, the more opportunities will open up for them. The education they’re pursuing now is setting the pace for the future.”
Volvo Construction Equipment and its golden-painted articulated hauler will continue to travel throughout North America in 2016. The hauler will end its journey at global construction industry trade show CONEXPO-CON/AGG in March of 2017, where it will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefitting training programs that encourage new generations to enter the construction industry, including SkillsUSA and Skills Canada.