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Tought Leader


Not Just a Driver Shortage The industry also faces a drain in the school bus garage


WRITTEN BY ROBERT T. PUDLEWSKI T


he driver shortage in the school bus industry is no surprise to anyone. What comes as a surprise to some is the growing technician shortage. In part, it’s a result of a nation-


al shortage of techno-skilled labor and the lack of truck and bus technical educational programs to train candidates who would become job seekers to our pupil transportation industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,


the trucking industry (Type C and D school buses are mounted on a medium-duty chassis very similar to a class 6 to 8 truck) will need to recruit 67,000 new tech- nicians by 2022 just to meet demand and replace re- tirees—a number not including the more than 75,000 new diesel engine specialists the agency anticipates will also be needed six years from now. School districts and contractors operating maintenance facilities will be in competition more than ever before with the trucking and automotive industry for future new hires. Today, truck chassis and school bus body technology


advances are almost outrunning the industry. Te com- plexity of technology mainly around emissions control systems, alternative fuels and bus operating information is outpacing that generational knowledge and leaving us with a void to fill.


Te lack of skilled technicians is especially concern- ing today when confronted with the aging demograph- ics of our school bus garage staff. Te challenge of replacing experience technicians may create operational problems resulting in increased downtime and work process inefficiencies. It may also lead to dissatisfac- tion among your current maintenance staff as they are tasked with doing more work. Technicians and their ongoing training needs are of the utmost importance for this industry; that includes looking at everything from the way we recruit to what we pay, benefits and working conditions. Tere are several ways to deal with the problem and


listed are some of the best recommended practices on hiring and retaining technicians:


• Create a mentor program to pass on the knowl- edge gained from experience





Offer to collaborate in creating a curriculum committee with your school district vocational


60 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2017


training centers to give advice on curriculum changes to include medium truck repair


• Work with your district vocational centers to offer on-site training for a portion of the school semester


• Create an apprentice program with ties to com- pensation and benefits





Offer better wages and benefits to cut down on turnover


• Partner with someone who has a training and development program, or create your own


• Work with an external staffing company Regardless of which option you choose, there are also


a few things you should consider to possibly improve your hiring process:


• Make the needed investments in human resourc- es technology that will allow you to streamline the application process


• Reduce the amount of time it takes you to re- spond to candidates





In your recruiting efforts focus on what jobseek- ers are looking for, a career path


• Be sure to inform candidates of the potential for performance-based wage increases


• Make sure to deliver an industry competitive benefits package


• Place a great deal of emphasis on continuous training and development


Spend some time writing a job description that will attract people. In evaluating the job description, ask yourself if you would apply for the job after reading the description. If the answer is no, rewrite it. Make sure you share development plans and training


opportunities with potential employees. With a plan in hand, not only will you attract more qualified candidates, but you will also retain more of the ones you do hire. A focus on providing more continuous training while establishing a career path to keep the recipients of that training in-house for the long-term is so critical. Another tip is to make sure you have a social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And make sure you update your social sites regularly. 


Pudlewski is the technical editor for School Transportation News magazine and a National School Transportation Association Hall of Fame member.


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