As the shortage of qualified technicians is now well beyond the critical level, manufacturers are having to develop their own programs to deal with the lack of qualified techs.
Wacker Neuson has announced an apprenticeship program to help fill the growing need for qualified machine technicians in the construction industry. The Menomonee Falls, Wis. construction equipment manufacturer teamed up with the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to create an apprenticeship program that allows students to “earn as they learn.” The program combines work-based learning with related classroom instruction using the industry standard, knowledge base and technology.
The Wacker Neuson Construction Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program is certified by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and supported by Kohler Engines, Franklin Equipment and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
“The program is intended to act as a funnel for qualified technicians into our dealer network,” said Jake Gaylord, technical training manager for Wacker Neuson and author of the program. “As a manufacturer, we heard from our dealer channel partners that they have trouble finding qualified skilled technicians to work on their equipment. We designed the apprenticeship program to help fill this gap by allowing technical apprentices to receive paid related instruction and on-the-job training at the same time.”
The paid related instruction uses a hybrid approach of both online and instructor led training to complement the on-the-job tasks and experience. During the two and a half year apprenticeship program, students are employed by a dealer, and are required to come to Wacker Neuson’s facility one week a month for paid related instruction. The paid related instruction is provided by Wacker Neuson University which also relies on the local technical college system to provide “life skill” training, such as employment success and communication.
“This approach provides a very specialized curriculum with direct application to the on-the-job activities,” said Gaylord. “There is minimal cost to the students and they earn while they learn without incurring debt. At the end of the program, the apprentices will have earned journeymen status and are fully qualified technicians in machine diagnostics, maintenance and repair of all Wacker Neuson construction equipment and similar equipment.”
Wacker Neuson will be recruiting for the program and will focus on high school graduates, veterans and women, as well as work with the existing dealer network to seek candidates.
“This is a unique program. We created a new job description, ‘Construction Equipment Technician’, that combines the skills of a diesel engine technician and mobile equipment technician into one job,” says Gaylord. “We are addressing the needs of our dealers and training technicians while they are earning wages. It’s a true win-win program for everyone.”