PHOENIX, July 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite more than 40 million Americans filing unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for skilled technicians across the transportation industry remains strong. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has deemed many of these jobs essential to supporting the nation's infrastructure during the health crisis, and employers continue to report a need for trained technicians.
To meet this pressing need, industry leaders are leveraging their long-standing partnerships with quality educational institutions like Universal Technical Institute (NYSE: UTI), which trains students to work as skilled transportation, welding and CNC machining technicians. UTI recently interviewed 22 of its industry partners about their needs, why they hire UTI's graduates and opportunities for the technicians who service vital equipment, maintain essential truck fleets, and keep vehicles, including those used by first responders, on the road.
"In the midst of the pandemic, we need trucks to move essential needs such as food or medical supplies, and the more these trucks have been running, the more likely they are to break down and come into our shops," said Whitley Burr, Corporate Staffing and Employment leader, at Penske's Premier Truck Group. "We can service those trucks only when we have skilled technicians on the floor who are trained properly and ready to work. The necessity is obviously there, and our technicians are an incredibly essential and huge part of our business."
Demand for these skilled technicians is expected to remain high through the pandemic and as the nation recovers. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated pre-pandemic there will be more than 110,000 job openings for auto, diesel and collision repair technicians on average annually across the U.S. through 2028. In an economic downturn, people and businesses keep their vehicles longer and trained technicians remain in demand to maintain and service them.
"Our technicians are still very busy, and it's already an extremely competitive market to hire them. That speaks to the essential nature of an automotive technician," said Daulten Stewart, Talent Management Specialist with Transamerican Auto Parts (4 Wheel Parts Performance Centers). "They're being counted upon in a time like this, and the students from UTI are very knowledgeable. They're 'plug and play' employees."
In mid-March, UTI transitioned its on-campus, in-person education model to an online format, building IT capability, redesigning courses, and training instructors to work in a virtual environment. Starting in May, UTI began opening hands-on CDC-compliant labs at its campuses as a complement to the online instructor-delivered teaching and demonstrations. The transition to online courses allowed UTI students to remain in school during the pandemic and, with the blended training model that now also offers hands-on learning modified to federal, state and local health authority guidelines, has given them additional preparation for careers that increasingly use a combination of both hands-on and computer skills.
"It's important to understand how to use a computer and how to work with your hands. Not just at Crown Lift but many employers are utilizing computers in every aspect of operations," said Brad Jordan, U.S. Recruiting Manager, Crown Equipment Corporation. "UTI has always provided its students with the hard skills we're looking for. However, now with the school's blended learning model, students will be more refined and balanced which will be an advantage as employers are looking for technicians."
About Universal Technical Institute, Inc. With more than 220,000 graduates in its 55-year history, Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (NYSE: UTI) is the nation's leading provider of technical training for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians, and offers welding technology and computer numerical control (CNC) machining programs. The company has built partnerships with industry leaders, outfits its state-of-the-industry facilities with current technology, and delivers training that is aligned with employer needs. Through its network of 12 campuses nationwide, UTI offers post-secondary programs under the banner of several well-known brands, including Universal Technical Institute (UTI), Motorcycle Mechanics Institute and Marine Mechanics Institute (MMI) and NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech). The company is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.