Diesel tech need gets boost from Utah Equipment Dealer Association, community college partnership

As the Utah Equipment Dealer Association (UEDA) works with Salt Lake Community College to establish a pathway to achieving AED Accreditation for the college’s current Diesel Systems Technology program, there will be a heavy-duty focus on readying a modern, trained workforce for the industry.

“The biggest thing is the shortage of techs in our industry,” said Ryan May, president of UEDA. “Even through the different cycles, the highs and lows, we’ve never had a time — at least in my history — that we’ve had too many techs.

“There has always been a shortage,” May told Equipment Reporter.

May said trying other methods to put more trained technicians in the field, such as formal education, rather than hiring untrained, unskilled technicians and providing them on-the-job training, as has been the standard in the past, will go a long way towards plugging the shortage.

With that goal in mind, UEDA and several other representatives from dealerships in the greater Salt Lake City area recently met with Salt Lake Community College officials who they will be working with hand-in-hand toward achieving the AED Accreditation for the college's Diesel Systems Technology program.

“It is just not the tech school part of it, the reason we are teaming up with them is because they are building a new facility and they are ramping up their end of it,” said May, who is also president of Century Equipment Co.

May said UEDA will also be embarking on efforts to better educate those preparing for careers about the diesel tech field.

“The biggest thing is just getting more people interested in the field,” he said. “Whether we train them ourselves or they go through school, we just need more guys interested in the field.”

That additional interest is another reason UEDA is helping to get the college’s program accredited.

“We want to locally get our AED involved with the career centers, even at the high school and junior high levels, just to increase the awareness and get these guys interested in this field at an earlier age,” he told the Equipment Reporter. “The pay is good and that awareness is not at that early age.”

To increase awareness, May said the association’s AED group, along with the community college, is planning to have a career-day event in spring 2016.

“We are going to invite the counselors from junior highs and high schools to come and at least get them aware of what we do and what we are after,” May said.

He added that it likely will “take a couple of years” before the college’s two-year degree program receives AED Accreditation.

“That is a big commitment on our part,” May told Equipment Reporter. “We are going to be working directly with them every step of the way to work them through the process of getting accredited.”