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Industry members are arriving in Atlanta this week for American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting with a special focus on advancing maintenance careers.
It’s clear that as an industry we have to change the narrative around these careers. It is not enough to talk about a skilled labor shortage hoping that the noise will produce results. It is up to us as an organization and as an industry to actively engage with education both at the secondary and post-secondary level.
With students, we have to make the message clear that beyond filling open skilled positions, we are launching careers. With educators, we have to stand pat and insist that a curriculum meets recognized credentials and makes a concerted effort to keep pace with industry. We have to rethink how we as fleets, service providers and suppliers are actively engaged in keeping training aids and equipment current and relevant.
We also have to be in the classrooms and labs on a regular basis. We need to keep our equipment front and center with our company logos proudly displayed. Our shortage is real, and the solutions have to be real as well. Make no mistake: The qualities and talent we need are in high demand. Virtually every industry segment is actively seeking the same people that we are.
It is here at TMC that we have the opportunity to hone the message, build the creative solutions and deploy an army of skilled professionals to achieve our goals. As an industry, we have a lot to offer and a lot to be proud of. If we make the effort to seek talent, recruit for attitude and drive, and train for skills, we can move the needle. I look forward to seeing industry members this week and hearing about your engagement and efforts on this important front.
With experienced professionals from a broad cross-section of fleets, equipment suppliers, educators and service providers, no other industry trade association matches the real-world experience and technical expertise of TMC’s membership. By providing leadership support and opportunities to collaborate, TMC helps members develop the industry’s best practices that address the critical technology and maintenance issues that have the greatest impact on truck fleets. For more than 60 years, TMC’s member-driven Recommended Maintenance and Engineering Practices have been setting the standards that help trucking companies specify and maintain their fleets more effectively.
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of voices, including Mike Abrashoff, former Commander of USS Benfold and noted leadership expert and author, who will serve as the Kickoff Breakfast speaker Tuesday morning. And we’ve scheduled events on a range of topics to address the most pressing of industry problems — we have Tuesday’s technical session on shop scheduling for maximum uptime, Wednesday’s TMC/SAE Symposium on the combination vehicle as a connected whole, and Thursday’s special management and career development track.
I also am pleased to welcome participants in our TMC Leaders of Tomorrow Program for “up-and-coming” fleet maintenance professionals — especially those in the Class of 2020 who will graduate this week during Wednesday’s Industry Awards Luncheon. They represent the future.
This year’s meeting theme is particularly appropriate for me, as it reflects what I have tried to accomplish both within TMC and other industry segments — namely, advancing careers in maintenance management. I have been proud to spearhead efforts at technician development and recruitment through the Be Pro Be Proud program, the state of Arkansas and other industry groups. These efforts have yielded great fruit, addressing our industry’s needs for our next-generation workforce; however, these efforts are far from over.
On behalf of the entire leadership and staff, thank you for supporting TMC and for choosing to join us this week in Atlanta.
Kenneth Calhoun is the 2019-2020 general chairman and treasurer of TMC. He also is the fleet optimization manager for Altec Industries.
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