Focusing on Technology and Training To Attract and Retain Diesel Technicians

A Penske Technician looks at an ipad

Diesel technicians are at the heart of a strong maintenance program, and technicians remain in demand.

Holly Gerke, vice president of maintenance technical training and development for Penske Truck Leasing, said there is a deficit of people who choose to pursue maintenance careers. “Because many children are not as exposed to growing up around someone who fixes vehicles, for example, we are having to find ways to compete with other industries that children are more often exposed to,” she said.

The TechForce Foundation, a national nonprofit that supports students’ technical education and careers, estimates that demand for new technicians in automotive, diesel and collision repair fields reached 232,200 in 2022 and will reach well over 900,000 through 2026. The TechForce 2022 Technician Supply and Demand Report stated that the demand is driven by new positions — replacements for people leaving the industry and unfilled positions from prior years.

“This year’s report underscores not only the challenges we face in attracting, training and retaining technicians but also the boundless opportunities for talented young people to build successful, rewarding careers in one of the world’s most dynamic and technology-intensive industries,” said TechForce Foundation CEO Jennifer Maher.

Today’s technicians are increasingly interested in ongoing feedback and development, career pathing strategies, and opportunities to grow their expertise. Penske has several programs to recruit, retain and promote technicians across its 950+ locations. As part of its strategy, Penske provides training to help technicians advance through the tech ranks and offers pathways to management for those who want to progress further.

“We offer classroom, online and interactive virtual training to give technicians opportunities to learn, and we’re also focused on giving them a vision of their career path,” said Mike Duquette, senior vice president of maintenance field operations for Penske Truck Leasing.

Training covers technical skills for entry-level and advanced technicians as well as customer service and leadership training. Penske has invested heavily in its Technician Acceleration Program and its Maintenance Management Training Program.

“You can go from the technician to the maintenance supervisor,” Duquette said, adding that there are opportunities for employees without tech experience to start on Penske’s fuel islands. “You can work your way up to a tech, move through the tech ranks and end up managing the entire team as a maintenance supervisor and beyond. The sky’s the limit.”