The effect of the pandemic on markets and consumers has been well documented: as consumers shifted their spending from services to goods and purchased more of those goods online, supply chain capacity and infrastructure supply have been under enormous pressure.
For many people, the pandemic has also spurred a change in attitude towards work, leading to an increase in early retirement or a desire for more fulfilling jobs. According to a 2021 survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, job openings have surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels, while 4.7 million fewer people remain active in the labor market.
The labor shortage is perhaps more serious for the logistics and transportation industry. By the end of 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that an additional 67,000 trained technicians and 75,000 additional diesel engine professionals will be needed to meet demand.
Transportation and logistics companies around the world are raising their hands in frustration or trying to analyze the origin of labor shortages, whether in truckers, material handlers or diesel mechanics.
However, PGT Trucking, a leading flatbed carrier based in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, is taking direct action by channeling efforts and funds into two strategic partnerships with local schools in an effort to infuse the job market with skilled and qualified logistics technicians.
Just a few weeks ago, the New Village Institute (NVI) Blairsville launched its six-month Certified Technician Programs, making it the largest dedicated automotive and diesel technician training campus in the nation. PGT Trucking supports this mission by sponsoring NVI student tuition scholarships, as well as a dedicated PGT classroom. Just an hour east of Pittsburgh, NVI sits on 27 acres and offers 282,000 square feet of classroom and store space.
“We will use NVI as our national training and continuing education center for technicians. As our staff need additional training, we can bring them back,” said Gerry Hickly, administrative manager at PGT Trucking. “In addition to having phenomenal classrooms, they also have accommodations for people from all over the country to come and we can support our maintenance training and development business, as well as develop a talent pipeline through their organization and hopefully in our stores.”
PGT will help with NVI’s recruitment efforts, which include leveraging social media, connecting with the high school market, and fighting the stigma that without a four-year degree you can’t get a job. well paid.
“That’s no longer the case,” Hickly said. “Our average salary is around $25 an hour for a technician, and it can go up as your skills increase. There are far too many people who take a four-year degree program who really don’t belong in a four-year program and are in fact depriving themselves of the opportunity to be part of a very strong and well paid and not have all that student debt. We need to do a better job as an industry of promoting this opportunity at a much younger age in the education system.
Cultivating an early interest in logistics and transportation is what sets PGT apart. Over the years, PGT has partnered with various vocational and technical schools in the area, but in September the Midland Innovation + Technology Charter School (MITCS) will open its doors to high school students in the Borough of Midland in Beaver County. , Pennsylvania. Patrick Gallagher, CEO of PGT Trucking, offered the charter high school a $500,000 grant to establish the PGT Transportation and Logistics Academy – one academy among others, including forensic science, justice justice, sustainability, skilled trades and community development.
MITCS will allow students to study areas of personal interest and tackle real-world projects to prepare them for a world of opportunity while earning certifications, degrees, apprenticeships, college credits, and even degrees. associates in the skilled trades, technology and other fields.
“Pat has a great commitment to Beaver County, where our business has been based for 40 years,” said Laurence Cox, director of continuous improvement at PGT. “Through these logistics courses, we will not only teach people about trucks, trains and barges, but the courses will include problem solving and ethics. With these skills, this student could go anywhere. Our goal is for this student to work in the local economy after graduation. Hopefully PGT will acquire a few of these students for ourselves while we’re at it.
While in the early 1980s Beaver County flourished as a steel industrial center, over the past 30 years employment and skills development in the region has stagnated. While high school vocational programs abound for carpenter, electrician, mason, or HVAC technician careers, the transportation and logistics industry hasn’t done a great job of connecting with young people. These two partnerships provide PGT with the opportunity to influence the curriculum and recruit highly qualified employees.
“If we don’t get kids thinking about a career in the transportation industry somewhere in middle school, we might have lost them to another job by the time graduation rolls around,” Hickly said. “The industry is moving forward and there are more opportunities for people with diverse skills today than ever before.”
PGT has actively embraced the advancement of technology in the transportation industry with its previously announced partnerships with Locomation Inc. and Nikola Corp.
“If a student is interested in computers or programming, we could have them work on a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle or a human-guided autonomous relay truck,” Hickly said. “We hope this technology will drive a new generation of truckers, technicians and leaders into our organization.”