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The AED Foundation Participates in New Workforce Solutions Area at CONEXPO-CON/AGG

The AED Foundation exhibited at the first-ever workforce solutions area at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas in March, which served as an excellent showcase for students, veterans and other industry partners of the rewarding career opportunities that are available in the equipment distribution industry.

“The AED Foundation’s participation in this creative new venture at CONEXPO-CON/AGG was a great way for us to promote careers in the equipment industry to high school students in an interactive way,” said Jason Blake, executive vice president and COO of The AED Foundation. “I would like to thank the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) for providing us this opportunity and for their strong partnership. We look forward to continuing to work with them and other like-minded organizations to address the industry’s skills gap.”

In addition to The AED Foundation, the interactive workforce solutions area featured several other participating organizations, including the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Be Pro Be Proud, Lift & Move USA, Wacker Neuson, Cashman CAT, DoD SkillBridge, Heroes MAKE America, Agriculture Future of America, Virginia Tech (Mining & Minerals Engineering), Ferris State University (which has an AED Foundation accredited heavy equipment program), SkillsUSA and Bridging America’s Gap.

“It’s critical for the equipment manufacturing and distribution industry to showcase the incredible career opportunities in this industry and there is no better place to do that than at CONEXPO-CON/AGG,” said Julie Davis, workforce development director at AEM and AED Foundation board member.

“We were happy to team with The AED Foundation and a variety of industry associations and organizations for a successful event that allowed students to explore career paths that they may not have previously known about.”

Throughout the event, The AED Foundation staff was busy connecting with industry attendees and discussing the Foundation’s efforts at addressing the technician shortage and skills gap. To that end, the Foundation recently unveiled its Vision 2024 initiative, which seeks to achieve the following goals by the end of 2024: 100 accredited college programs, 50 recognized high school programs, 10,000 skilled technicians entering the workforce, 500 certified managers and 5,000 certified technicians. The AED Foundation believes that hitting these benchmarks will create a steady and strong pipeline of technicians to support the industry’s future.

The most rewarding opportunity was engaging with the several hundred area students who were bused to the event from nearby high schools. While the hand sanitizer giveaways were a huge hit with the students, they also learned about what a career in the equipment industry looked like and had the unique opportunity to experience it in a hands-on way by testing out their skills on Komatsu’s virtual reality (VR) excavator simulator. Komatsu America Corp. generously supplied one of their VR units to the Foundation’s booth and staffed it throughout the event.

“We were pleased to partner with The AED Foundation and AEM to provide students with an interactive and exciting look at the equipment industry,” said Bill Chimley, director of training and publications for Komatsu America Corp. and AED Foundation board member. “Using hands-on technology, like VR, is one of the avenues that we must continue to focus on as a way to generate positive industry awareness among students.”

“The AED Foundation greatly appreciates the strong support that Komatsu America Corp. provided us at this event to help ensure its overall success,” added Blake.

The AED Foundation looks forward to continuing to participate in creative and interactive events geared toward students across North America while also focusing on time-tested efforts in addressing the skills gap through the accreditation of postsecondary equipment technology programs; expansion of its recognition of high school programs; career promotion; and collaboration with organizations such as AEM, SkillsUSA and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

“This was a great effort and addition to CONEXPO-CON/AGG,” said Mike Grady, Business Development Manager at Almon Inc. “This is an issue that has been growing and needs to be addressed. I look forward to working with The AED Foundation to continue to move the ball forward about expanding workforce development efforts within the equipment industry.”

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

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