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Professional development is a journey without an end, a task that is never truly complete. That’s true for most any profession, and commercial vehicle technicians are certainly no exception.
From seasoned technicians with decades of experience to new recruits fresh out of technical school, there is always something new to learn and opportunity for improvement.
The need for constant training and skills development is elevated by the complexity of today’s high-tech trucks, which are equipped with sophisticated emission-control systems and an ever-growing array of onboard sensors.
And looking ahead, the introduction of electric propulsion and more advanced safety systems and automated driving technologies will only increase the amount of knowledge and expertise that will be required to maintain and repair the trucks that transport the nation’s freight.
As a result, maintenance shops face a significant challenge: ensuring that their technicians have ample opportunity to refine their knowledge and skills through training and mentorships as they perform their normal duties.
Maintenance operations must pay special attention to bringing new technicians up to speed as they enter the industry’s workforce.
New recruits should be well trained in the basic competencies of their profession when they first arrive, but they will likely need opportunities to master more complex tasks to add more value to the organization and advance in their careers.
In many cases, this will mean on-the-job training and mentoring.
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New technologies such as augmented reality applications also can help new technicians bridge the knowledge gap.
Technician skills competitions are another increasingly popular way to encourage and reward professional development.
Many large trucking fleets and maintenance providers have established their own competitions, where their technicians compete for prizes and recognition.
National truck dealership chain Rush Enterprises, which recently hosted its 14th annual Tech Skills Rodeo, said the event not only boosts career development, but also enhances employee retention (see story, P. A6).
Meanwhile, the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual TMCSuperTech competition brings in technicians from across the industry, giving them the opportunity to see how they stack up against elite professionals from other companies.
Ultimately, maintenance shops must foster an environment where technicians of all ages and experience levels are encouraged — and expected — to expand and refine their skills.
That journey will never be finished, but each step along the way will yield improved productivity, better customer service and hopefully more rewarding careers for the people who keep the trucks rolling.
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