Terex, Cummins and CNH Industrial Discuss Moving the Needle on the Technician Shortage

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9/25/2023

Technician ShortageTechnicians are critical to the success of the equipment manufacturing industry, and yet, they represent one of its most long-standing workforce challenges.

When it comes to attracting employees to the field and retaining current employees, companies need to continue to think out of the box.

With that fact in mind, AEM sat down with four member company representatives -- Terex's Nick Cammisa, Cummins’ BethAnn Weaver-Padget and Rachel Myslak, as well as CNH Industrial’s Peter Steiner -- to discuss the creative ways their companies have moved the needle in technician retention, recruitment and outreach.  

AEM: How have you changed your thinking about the retention of technicians and what changes have resulted? 

Cammisa: In the last few years, we’ve had some retention issues, so we had to examine this topic closely. We looked at how we onboard new team members, and how we interact with veteran employees. When it comes to onboarding, we’ll fly new employees to one location, so they all get the same training – whether it’s safety, processes or learning how to run the equipment. When it comes to our veteran technicians, we do pair them up with those new team members to encourage mentorship. Lastly, we do a lot more teambuilding events across the country than we used to in the past. We’re a very large organization spread across the country, and the teambuilding events have helped technicians work as one and feel like they’re more connected.  

Steiner: I think the biggest thing is making sure that all of the employees have a clear understanding of what their future looks like. What are their growth paths? What are those goals that they can aspire to as they move further into their careers? What will their manager do in order to support them? Nick (Cammisa) referred to training, and training is certainly something that is continual. Really, this all starts during onboarding – making sure that they feel comfortable, making sure they have a mentor, and making sure they have a long-term growth plan. 

Weaver-Padget: At Cummins, we have a big focus on safety, and we’re rolling out programs to almost incentivize everyone to be safe – empowering everyone to be able to speak up. Another avenue is encouraging getting involved in our employee resource groups (ERGs).  

Myslak: I think we are all focused on retention, and this has only intensified over time. For Cummins, it can take us up to five years to certify a technician – so we put a significant focus on ensuring that we are retaining our employees. This is not only to make sure that we are giving our customers the best service, but to make sure that the investment that we put into our employees stays with us.  

 

Steiner"I think the biggest thing is making sure that all of the employees have a clear understanding of what their future looks like. What are their growth paths? What are those goals that they can aspire to as they move further into their careers? What will their manager do in order to support them?" -- CNH Industrial's Peter Steiner

 

 

AEM: What are you doing differently for recruitment? 

Myslak: I think for us it's more like what aren’t we doing for recruitment! Today Cummins is casting a really wide net, and trying to think creatively when it comes to recruitment. I’m sure everyone on this call knows that the demand for technicians continues to outpace the availability – so we’ve tried to tap as many different paths as we possibly can. We heavily encourage our service branches to make connections with their local high schools or CTCs. Today, we offer part-time positions with our service locations so students can get work credit, and payment, typically when they’re in their senior year. We do also have an apprentice program; it's more formal and you have to apply and pass a test, but we do provide an associate degree as a part of this program to students. We also look to veterans and veteran's organizations; SkillBridge has been very useful for our recruitment. We’ve partnered with communities, and we’ve tried to attract people who might be re-entering the workforce, or people who are non-violent offenders who are looking to enter the workforce and learn a new skill. We are very open-minded when it comes to different backgrounds. 

Cammisa: We operate very similarly; our recruiting team is working with a lot of tech schools across the country. We’ve taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to recruitment. We are all trying to recruit the same technicians across the country, and with high demand, there are only so many to go around.  

Steiner: I’m not recruiting directly, but I’m working with our dealers to create a pipeline of technicians. We have to continually invest in the future and look for additional employees.  

AEM: What is the most effective thing you think your company has done to influence the technician challenge? 

Steiner: We have developed some marketing assets that our dealers could use, and at the same time we put together a toolkit for recruiting. It gives tips and tricks and outlines how to get started – many of our locations were doing this already, but it's good to have a refresher. It's good to share best practices between our different locations and organizations. We are seeing a shift in conversation, where people are doing more in their communities. The third piece to that is we’ve spent a lot of time working with tech colleges, and it's surprising how well they do with the little they have. I’m proud of what has been done so far, we have a lot of work to do yet, and we will continue to improve.

 

Myslak

"For Cummins, it can take us up to five years to certify a technician – so we put a significant focus on ensuring that we are retaining our employees. This is not only to make sure that we are giving our customers the best service, but to make sure that the investment that we put into our employees stays with us." -- Cummins' Rachel Myslak

 

 

Cammisa: For us, we didn’t have a recruiting team until 2019. We had an HR department that basically just took in applications and there wasn’t a lot of effort put into it. With our growing recruiting team, we had to take time to make relationships with schools and military groups so they could help us from a recruiting standpoint.  

Myslak: What’s been maybe not the most effective, but I’m the proudest of, is change in the perception of the industry. That it is a place that’s a great place to make your career and your living. You don’t need a four-year degree, you can come to this company, and we invest in our employees. We are open to all genders and diverse backgrounds; we are cleaner, and we care about the environment and our people. You can’t start too early, either. When we talk about schools, you need to get all the way down to the middle-school level. 

Weaver-Padget: I think an important piece that we are proud of is standardization, in terms of how interviews are conducted and how our programs are run. Though our apprenticeship program this year, there are more women than ever!  

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