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AED Foundation Research Preview: 
Addressing the Skills Gap and the Technician Shortage

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A key focus area for The AED Foundation is research, which helps to back up the Foundation’s statements on the importance of workforce development. It is critical for The AED Foundation to be able to provide results of this research to legislators, educators, the media and other stakeholders. Without AED Foundation research, stakeholders and policymakers would not be able to get a clear picture of the challenges facing the equipment industry.

Over the last several years, The AED Foundation has commissioned research reports through the College of William & Mary in Virginia. In 2018, the Foundation will again partner with the College of William & Mary to revisit and provide an update of its 2016 study: The Equipment Industry Technician Shortage: Causes, Impacts and Policy Recommendations.

The 2016 report was significant in verifying that the skills gap facing the equipment industry is real and is costing the industry over $2.4 billion annually in potential revenue. Confirming what many AED members are still experiencing daily is critical to The AED Foundation and its members when pushing for policies to reduce the skills gap. This includes advocating for increased funding for career and technical education through the Perkins Act and continuing efforts to promote careers in the equipment industry to students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders. The report was even cited in a 2017 New York Times article related to filling the skills gap.

“The AED Foundation’s first research report shined a light on the large financial burden, $2.4 billion in lost potential revenue annually, that the skills gap and technician shortage is having on the equipment industry,” said Brian P. McGuire, president and CEO of AED and president of The AED Foundation. “This research is an essential part of the mission of the Foundation, and revisiting these numbers is important for informing us where the industry stands today and giving us a sense of the outlook for the next several years.”  

The focus of the 2018 research report will be to revisit how the technician shortage is financially impacting AED members and to determine if the skills gap is growing. The report may also help in determining the total number of technicians that are needed across the industry, which is of particular importance since about 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach retirement age every day for the next decade. It will also provide The AED Foundation with a roadmap for how to best support the equipment industry in the future.

The Foundation is excited about its upcoming research and plans to continue its time-tested efforts to address the skills gap through accreditation of postsecondary construction equipment technology programs, career promotion, and collaboration with organizations including SkillsUSA, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the American School Counselor Association.  
Addressing the skills gap through apprenticeship programs is another avenue the Foundation is exploring. The Trump administration established the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion and is pushing the growth of apprenticeship programs in part by creating “industry-recognized apprenticeships.” The task force is focused on identifying strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in areas where programs are lacking. The AED Foundation is monitoring the work of the task force and is actively exploring the possibility of creating an industry-recognized apprenticeship.  

The Foundation plans to unveil the findings of its 2018 research report at AED’s Summit in Orlando, Florida, February 4–7, 2019. Save those dates – you won’t want to miss out on celebrating AED’s 100th anniversary.

For more information about The AED Foundation’s previous research reports, please visit aedfoundation.org. If you have a topic that you would like the Foundation to consider researching in the future, please contact Associate Director of Development and Workforce Marty McCormack. He can be reached at mmccormack@aednet.org and 630-642-9108.

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