When J-Tech Institute started the new school year this fall, the students of the Jacksonville, Florida, trade school’s diesel technology program were doing more than learning the technical skills that could lead to a successful career. They were also becoming part of the solution to a pressing issue in the construction industry: the shortage of technicians to service and maintain fleets. That’s also an issue Volvo CE and its dealer network have identified as a top priority. So as J-Tech sought to expand their students’ knowledge of off-road equipment hydraulics, Volvo CE recently stepped up its involvement with the school. Volvo CE and Alta Equipment Company, which is part of its dealer network and has a location in Jacksonville, are supporting the school with training material and sponsorships.
For Volvo CE, it’s part of a multi-pronged initiative to address the skilled labor shortage that includes the construction of a new training center at its North American headquarters in Pennsylvania and the opening of a Bay Area training center as a hub for electric vehicle training. Action is needed now, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that there will be an average of 28,500 openings for diesel technicians and mechanics each year for the next decade. “We’ve made it a priority to support technician and operator training in order to help our customers improve their uptime and help the industry add the skilled labor that’s critical to everyone’s success,” said Stephen Roy, president of Region North America, Volvo CE. “We’re doing that with the development of our own training facilities and also through partnerships with our dealers and trade schools like J-Tech Institute.”
J-Tech Institute has a variety of trade programs. Approximately 80 students graduate each year with an associate degree in diesel technology after receiving training in off-road, on-road, marine and recreational diesel equipment. For construction equipment, engines and drivetrains are major focuses. So too is hydraulics, with students taught how to fabricate hydraulic hoses, pressure-test hydraulic systems and more. Volvo CE and Alta sponsor a new hydraulic training lab at J-Tech and have made training materials available to the school. Volvo CE has also provided hydraulic components for use as training aids.
Alta has hired eight J-Tech graduates, sponsored school sign-up days with potential students and their parents, participated in career fairs and made presentations to students. “J-Tech gave me the knowledge and skills needed to be successful and thrive while working on Volvo equipment at Alta,” said Tiffany Roberts, a recent graduate. The company is happy to employ several J-Tech graduates. “The service we provide customers is just as important as the equipment we sell,” said Mary Padron, director of training and technical support, Alta Equipment. “Alta is proud to support J-Tech, and the school has given just as much to us with the well-trained diesel technicians we’ve hired. Beyond their technical skills, the culture of the school shows up in their attitudes and behaviors.”
“We’ve known Volvo to be a forward-thinking manufacturer of quality equipment,” said Gregory H. Jones, president of J-Tech Institute. “Also, given her unique background of working with Volvo Trucks Academy and now Alta Equipment Company, Mary Padron was and remains the catalyst to increasing student interest in the world of construction equipment.”