Last month, AED and The AED Foundation announced a change to the Vision 2025 goals – specifically, increasing the number of recognized high schools from 50 to 150 schools. This decision was made with the current trajectory of the high school recognition process in mind while also considering the role that recognized programs must play to meet other Vision 2025 goals. As the number of recognized high school programs across North America continues to grow, more opportunity is provided for students to get a head start on training for a career in the heavy equipment industry. What drove AEDF to this decision, and what does it mean for the industry moving forward?
Why the increase?
It is well known that the technician shortage will not get better on its own – there needs to be a consistent effort from industry members to increase the number of technicians throughout the United States and Canada. The AED Foundation recognizes that a vital component of these efforts is intriguing students with industry careers. Until recently, AEDF’s primary area of focus in attracting students to a career in heavy equipment was through accredited college programs. Specifically, the Foundation has focused on increasing the number of programs available to students, thus growing AEDF Certified Technicians across North America. Through surveying industry members over the past several months, the Foundation has concluded that the most effective way to draw students into the industry is by capturing their interest at an earlier age.
For this reason, The AED Foundation is shifting its focus from the college level to the high school level. By sparking student awareness and interest in the industry at an earlier age, AEDF plans to draw more students into the pipeline to become AEDF Certified Technicians. To achieve this new target, the Foundation has deemed it necessary to increase the Vision 2025 goal for recognized high schools from 50 to 150. This new goal will work to solve other components of Vision 2025 as well, as it will put more students on track to enter careers as heavy equipment technicians.
The newly increased recognition goal isn’t the only way the Foundation raises awareness in high school students. Over the past year, AEDF has put additional effort into providing education and resources to students at the high school level. The Foundation’s Stackable Credentials programs consist of virtual courses explicitly designed for secondary school students, which they can take to sharpen their skills in a particular industry-related topic. Currently, AEDF offers Stackable Credentials programs on two different topics: safety and electronics. AEDF’s Construction Career Aptitude Test, another resource launched in the past year, measures student knowledge of industry-related subjects including measurement, safety, general mathematics, mechanical reasoning, basic electrical, hydraulics and engine systems. The free test allows students to accurately measure their strengths and weaknesses to determine areas that need improvement or decide if an industry career is the right fit. With these new resources and the increase in the number of recognized schools, the Foundation is helping to shape the next generation of technicians with a proper technical education that will benefit them throughout their careers.
What does this mean for the industry?
What does AEDF’s increased goal mean for AED members and other industry professionals? The AED Foundation puts forth continuous effort to collaborate with schools that are good candidates for recognition, but support from industry members, specifically dealers, is essential to meet Vision 2025 goals and reach a point of closing the skills gap. High schools are required to have a supporting dealership to achieve recognition status. Dealership support can gain a dealer an advantageous position on the school board, which lends the ability to oversee the program and ensure the education practices align with local dealerships. The AED Foundation encourages dealers to reach out and work with high schools to accomplish this milestone. The Foundation’s Executive Vice President and COO, Jason Blake, states, “recognition is a necessary step for students to become top-tier technicians upon entering the workforce. Right now, it is more important than ever to ensure schools across the country are upholding education standards that meet recognition requirements, as excellent education translates to qualified industry technicians. AEDF advocates for industry members to work with high schools in their respective areas to achieve recognition status.” With combined efforts from schools, dealerships and the Foundation, the industry is well on its way to seeing an increase in recognized schools and students with an esteemed technical education.
While this new goal of achieving 150 recognized high schools by 2025 may appear ambitious compared to the previous 50-school goal, the end result will be worthwhile to industry members, schools and incoming students alike. AEDF is excited to take on this mission with schools and dealerships to benefit the industry for years to come.
For more information on AEDF’s recognized high school programs, please contact Liz McCabe, Vice President of Education and Programming, at email@example.com