And, like just about any other heavy equipment manufacturer, dealer or service provider, they’d like to get more people to join their ranks.
As a result, Stephenson has been a supporter of The AED Foundation in several ways. Company President Bob Criste finished his term as Foundation board treasurer at the end of 2018.
Stephenson has also contributed to The AED Foundation's Annual Campaign the last few years and is helping to shape curricula and to entice students and the potential workforce to choose to choose a career in heavy equipment – often, but not exclusively, recruiting at the high school level.
“I am very impressed with how hard The AED Foundation staff are working to develop technician programs in high schools and getting colleges accredited,” Criste says. “The technician shortage is real and The AED Foundation is doing their part to help solve this problem for our industry.”
“The skills gap is nationwide – maybe worldwide,” says Jeff Tulish, branch manager of the Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, branch. There is a lingering perception among parents that they should push their children toward pursuing a four-year degree. “Parents feel their kids won’t have a viable career without a four-year degree. The AED Foundation tries to educate parents that these so-called blue-collar jobs are lucrative.
“A four-year (school) is not for everybody,” Tulish adds. Nor does it need to be. “Trades have been hurt with the software engineering and dot-com booms, but maybe a turnaround is coming.”
Stephenson, among many others, is doing its part to steer that turnaround. Infrastructure needs to be maintained and installed, after all. Buildings, roads, bridges and more are in large part the efforts of heavy equipment, so the need exists.
Tulish was heavily involved in getting Berks Career and Technology Center AED Foundation-Certified. The Leesport, Pennsylvania, high school underwent the five-step process toward accreditation. With the program now available, “kids can get funneled into the heavy equipment path and hopefully onto that career track,” Tulish adds.
Tulish points out, too, that Stephenson is like many other companies in the industry, willingly investing in the development of new and existing employees. A recent year saw the company spending more than $600,000 toward educating its ranks. They also do internships with area trade schools, exposing prospects to construction equipment careers – and hiring, if they’re the right candidate.
It’s becoming all the more urgent now, with the industry facing a growing labor shortage as baby boomers retire. Recruiting people into technical training is crucial as a result.
And although there is competition in the industry, there is a shared goal to get more recruits, which can only benefit the industry as a whole.
“We try to get the parents to understand what this career path entails,” Tulish says. “We let them know what the beginning salaries are and that there is very little turnover.”
With that being a shared goal of The AED Foundation, Criste implores everyone to back the cause. “I ask that every AED member support The AED Foundation.”
Your contribution fuels the work that allows The AED Foundation to develop a dealer model for success. The future of dealerships depend on how we come together to build our industry’s workforce. Thank you, Stephenson Equipment for investing in the future of our industry. To contribute to The AED Foundation annual campaign, visit bit.ly/2019aedfcampaign.