Our industry is always looking for the key that will open the door for successful technician recruitment. Maybe the answer is right on our personal devices.
Driver shortages…logistics shortages…technician shortages: our industry is plagued by the difficulty in attracting younger talent. Companies and fleets have tried everything, from higher pay to better benefits to employee engagement…and it has all fallen short of hopes and expectations. As generations change, each has its own idiosyncrasies and desires that make recruiting a challenge.
For the longest time, we have been focused on attracting Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and bemoaning the difficulty in finding talent. But now we need to be looking towards Gen Z, those born beginning in 1997 and who are just entering college and/or the workforce. Though close in age, Gen Z has lived (and is living through) a pandemic, societal changes, and the reality that college may put you into nearly a lifetime of paying off loans. Whether it’s COVID or the high cost of college, the fact is that enrollment at 4-year and community colleges is decreasing. That may open up opportunities for recruiting in our sector and that means exploring how to attract Gen Z to our industry.
However, we still face a challenge when hiring maintenance technicians; that is the old, outdated image of workers in grease-covered overalls holding a wrench. We know that today’s technician is just as likely to be working in a clean white jumpsuit and looking at a laptop while still needing to get under the hood and fix manually what needs to be fixed. But how do we explain that to a generation that’s grown up on social media, immediate gratification, and video games?
Maybe what we need is exactly that, a video game.
An article that appeared a little over a week ago in FleetOwner talks about this very subject. The article describes how Gen Z is different from Millennials; Gen Z is more adaptable, more loyal, and more open to a wide range of career options. Tallo, which “helps companies find the next generation of workers” did a survey in 2020 of nearly 30,000 high school and college students to explore what kind of industries they wanted to work for. At #4 was automotive/heavy equipment manufacturing. (unfortunately, transportation/ distribution/logistics ranked #12, a disappointment when it comes to drivers and logistics professionals). But for maintenance teams, #4 is an amazing achievement.
So, to capitalize on this, the article discusses how Tallo worked with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) to generation interest. TMC found what attracted talent, what turned them off, and what could change minds. One thing that could really make a difference is the TMC SuperTech app, which is geared towards middle and high school students, attempting to get to them at their most impressionable age for career decisions. The app is an augmented reality game that was released in April of this year and teaches players “to diagnose and repair tractor-trailers through a series of three mini-games focused on tire/wheel, brake, and engine repair. Gamers can progress through 15 levels.” Plus, as an incentive and reward, gamers are ‘paid’ within the app and can use that payment to improve their vehicles and continue moving upward.
Right now, data is not available for the success of this tool, but it will be fascinating to see if and how it works. The industry should pull together to advocate for this app, making if a must-have for a new generation. This may not be the “silver bullet” we have all been pursuing but, if it is a success, it could lead the way towards additional innovations in hiring. We can only hope.
Read Jane’s IdeaXchange articles for additional ways to recruit, retain, and engage employees.