The AED Foundation Releases Latest Research Report at CONEXPO-CON/AGG

At a media event during CONEXPO-CON/AGG in March, The AED Foundation officially unveiled its latest commissioned research report: The Equipment Industry Technician Shortage: Reassessing Causes, Impacts and Policy Recommendations, which provides an updated look at the impact the skills gap is having on the equipment distribution industry, estimates how many technician positions will need to be filled over the next five years, and provides recommendations for addressing the technician shortage.

“This research is a critical part of the mission of The AED Foundation and provides the industry with a valuable outlook for the next several years,” said Jason Blake, executive vice president and COO of The AED Foundation.

“Since releasing its first research report, which shined a light on the large financial burden that the technician shortage is having on the equipment industry, the Foundation has continued to focus on quantifying these challenges to ensure that policymakers and other stakeholders better understand these issues.”

 The 2020 report was conducted at the College of William & Mary in Virginia and provides an update to its 2016 study: The Equipment Industry Technician Shortage: Causes, Impacts and Policy Recommendations.

The major findings from this report, which included a survey of AED distributor members, include the following:

  • The industry will need to fill 45,000 to 73,500 heavy equipment technician positions over the next five years.
  • Among AED member respondents, 95% agree that there is a skills gap in the industry and 89% report a shortage of workers in their company.
  • Almost 90% of AED dealerships have a job opening rate above that of the national average.
  • 62% of surveyed AED members say local education institutions in their area (high schools, community colleges, other technical schools) do not understand the company’s workforce needs and don’t align their curricula and train students to meet those needs.
  • Among AED member respondents, the top three leading effects of the skills gap are the inability to meet customer demand, hindered growth, and an inability to seize new opportunities.

This report confirms what many AED members are surely seeing on a daily basis, which makes the work of The AED Foundation in reducing the skills gap even more critical. To that end, earlier this year The Foundation unveiled its Vision 2024 initiative to address the skills gap and technician shortage by achieving the following goals by 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 future of the industry.

“While this report highlights the challenges we face, it also presents recommendations to help us overcome those challenges, including strengthening our recruitment strategy, furthering educational development initiatives, maximizing data collection and targeting to increase recruiting effectiveness, and creating roles for older workers to leverage valuable knowledge,” said Jeffrey Scott, chairman of The AED Foundation and president of Intermountain Bobcat. “These recommendations dovetail nicely with The AED Foundation’s Vision 2024.”

Research is a key focus area for The AED Foundation, which is the leading organization funding industry-specific research that advances the importance of workforce development and shares this data with policymakers, educators, the media and other stakeholders. Research is such an important piece of The Foundation’s mission for the following reasons: it helps quantify the challenges the equipment industry faces and allows the industry to leverage its power to drive meaningful change, it allows The AED Foundation to track emerging trends and grow the industry as a whole, and it backs up the Foundation’s assertions when it advocates for greater investment in career and technical education in Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and across North America.

This report, along with its 2019 report regarding the impact of autonomous technology, will provide The AED Foundation with a road map for how the equipment distribution industry will need to adapt in the future.

To access the full research report, or for more information about previous research reports, please visit The AED Foundation looks forward to continuing to commission timely research reports to help AED members better prepare for a changing industry landscape. 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 and 630-642-9108.

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