Penske Truck Leasing is joining the TechForce Foundation’s efforts to recruit the next generation of truck fleet maintenance technicians as part of the foundation’s FutureTech Success campaign. The TechForce Foundation works to raise awareness with school-age students about career opportunities as professional technicians with this national, multiyear, multimedia campaign.
TechForce’s recent assessment shows the trucking industry needs nearly 300,000 new technicians over the next 10 years to meet demand.
Penske Truck Leasing has a North America truck fleet of more than 298,000 vehicles and a truck maintenance workforce of approximately 8,000 people, and is on track to hire 2,500 technicians this year, making it a powerful partner to showcase the trucking aspect of technician opportunities.
Gregg Mangione, senior vice president of maintenance for Penske Truck Leasing, told HDT in an interview that the company has its own cross-functional team working on the short-term and long-term challenges for recruiting technicians, and when the team discovered the TechForce campaign, it was an easy decision to sign on.
“We went beyond recruiting to the fact that the pipeline itself has been shrinking. The realization was, we need to get more people to enter this pool as possible applicants for diesel technician positions,” he said. “We have our own marketing group and are trying to position ourselves in the marketplace and the role of technicians; we’re trying to beat down some paradigms,” Mangione said, such as using the term technician rather than mechanic. “It’s a different position; it’s a higher skill level,” he explained.
Travis Leybeck, director of strategic alliances at TechForce Foundation, told HDT that the campaign not only targets young people, but perhaps more importantly, educators and parents who are guiding them in their career choices. The campaign emphasizes how being a technician is a highly technical career, offering great opportunities, outstanding pay, and career advancement opportunities, he explained. “These are stories that parents and educators haven’t been hearing.”
The campaign will build on one of education’s current buzzwords, STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. “We do a lot of stuff with STEM since that’s such a buzzword,” Leybeck says. “We draw lots of connections between STEM and technician career.”
That message will be put out via advertising and social media; a special website called “Test Drive a Career” featuring videos about technicians and other people in the industry; and partnering with high schools and technical schools. The campaign includes efforts to get the message out to women and minorities, as well.
In addition to a financial contribution, Penske will take part in campaign marketing materials and advertising campaigns, and sharing campaign content on Penske social media channels. Penske will also sit on the campaign’s National Leadership Cabinet; participate in the FutureTech video series titled: “When Techs Rock, America Rolls” to highlight Penske’s best practices; and join the foundation in speaking events at schools nationwide.
TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional auto, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, motorsports, watercraft, welding and aviation technicians. In addition to spearheading the FutureTech Success initiative, it distributes more than $2 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to corporate sponsors and donors.