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Research is a key focus area for The AED Foundation. It is critical for the Foundation to be able to provide this in-depth industry research to legislators, educators, media and other stakeholders. Without research, stakeholders and policymakers would not be able to get a clear  picture of the challenges facing the equipment industry.

Over the years, The AED Foundation has commissioned research reports through the College of William & Mary in Virginia. In 2019, the Foundation is once again partnering 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 costing the industry over $2.4 billion annually in potential revenue. Confirming what many AED members are still seeing daily, it 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 within 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, to know where the industry stands today and to get a sense of the outlook for the next several years.” 

The focus of the 2019 research report will be to revisit how the technician shortage is financially impacting AED members and will determine whether 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 importance, as about 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age every day for the next decade. This report, along with its latest commissioned report regarding autonomous technology, will provide The AED Foundation with a road map for how to best support the equipment industry in the future.
The AED Foundation is excited about its upcoming research and plans to continue its time-tested efforts of addressing the skills gap through its accreditation of post-secondary construction equipment technology programs, career promotion and collaboration with organizations such as SkillsUSA, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), and the American School Counselor Association. 

Apprenticeship programs are another avenue The AED 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 an “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program” (IRAP). The U.S. Department of Labor will soon be releasing an application that will allow the Foundation to apply to be an IRAP accrediting organization.

“The AED Foundation is focused on providing our members with the tools they need to effectively address the technician shortage and skills gap, and we believe IRAP can play an impactful role in that effort,” said Jason Blake, executive vice president and COO of The AED Foundation. 

The Foundation plans to unveil the findings of its 2019 report this summer. Earlier this year, it released its latest commissioned report, “A Study of the Impact of Autonomous Technology.” The report provides an insightful look into the future, pointing out ways in which the construction equipment industry will need to adapt, along with opportunities for it to grow.

For more information about 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 Marty McCormack at The AED Foundation.

Marty McCormack is The AED Foundation’s associate director of development and workforce. He can be reached at mmccormack@aednet.org or 630-642-9108

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