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Posted June 26, 2019


Public sector fleets face unique recruitment and retention challenges. A technician shortage coupled with so many experienced technicians reaching retirement is pressuring fleets to hone their recruitment strategies. A new article in Government Fleet states some public fleets report 38 percent of their technicians will retire in the next five years.  

At the same time, two factors, salary freezes and the erosion of benefit packages, are helping auto dealers poach some of the most qualified public sector mechanics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for diesel service technicians and mechanics will grow nine percent from 2016 to 2026.  

The answer to the technician shortage? According to a separate article in Government Fleet, poaching technicians back from auto dealers by emphasizing stability, benefits, and work variety should be part of any fleet managers playbook. But first, consider new recruitment strategies. 


“You Can Grow Them or You Can Steal Them”

Cal Macy, project director of the Advanced Transportation Technology Center at Long Beach City College, told Government Fleet that there are two ways to get a technician: “You can grow them or you can steal them.”  

Macy said the first step is raising awareness. For starters, many young mechanics—26 percent of those surveyed by Government Fleet—say they didn’t know government agencies employed technicians. Students also often don’t understand that dealership technicians make commission sales. 

“It’s a hustle-hustle environment, and you’re scrambling all the time to survive,” said Macy. For contrast, he emphasizes that public fleet technicians enjoy steady incomes, often work eight-hour days and go home to their families at five, and that they even get the same benefit packages as mayors and city managers.  


Growing Your Recruitment Pool

Jerry Rutter, vice president of Industry Employment and Solutions at Universal Technical Institute, told Government Fleet that dealers, manufacturers, and businesses are recruiting students through branding, interaction, and incentives. Government fleets need to have competitive recruitment strategies to keep pace.  

Macy stresses sending fleet managers and technicians to career fairs, since it is more effective when someone working in the industry speaks to them directly. At career fairs, Rutter emphasizes coming early and often. “You need to be able to interact with them earlier because if you try to catch them at the end, chances are they already have a job or they have a few competing offers.” 

Rutter suggests money isn’t everything to millennials—public sector fleets should consider offering mentorship programs and talking with students about a step-by-step path for career growth. Some students love particular brands. Talking about specific truck or engine brands they would be working on is helpful.  

Let students know that “it’s not all preventative maintenance”—government fleet technicians often get to work on a variety of equipment, even warranty repairs. “Compete on how meaningful it’s going to be to work for your fleet,” Rutter said. 


Retaining Skilled Technicians 

Public sector technicians responding to Government Fleet’s survey said improving compensation is critical to their retention. Higher salaries, however, may be out of reach for some agencies. To better retain employees, take a look at the other request made by survey respondents:  

  • More technical training 
  • Bonuses for certifications  
  • Allowing them to attend local fleet and vehicle events 

Fleet managers can poll their employees to find out what they value. This information can then be used as a roadmap to increase job satisfaction for their valuable technicians.