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It’s no secret that the trucking industry has a shortage of technicians. By 2022, the commercial trucking sector will need to fill more than 100,000 technician positions. A considerable part of this issue is that knowledgeable technicians are retiring, and the incoming group of technicians isn’t arriving with the skills they need for entry-level service work. Another issue is job hopping. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, 56% of technicians have had at least two jobs in the last five years. Because diesel technician retention is such a big issue for fleet managers, it’s vital to pick up new strategies like the following to keep your top performers.


One reason the trucking industry is short on diesel service technicians is that people see working on fleets as a dirty job. Today, engine work is much less greasy and more sophisticated. Keeping your shop clean can improve perceptions about the technician field and create better working conditions for your staff. By eliminating the hazards that come with a messy shop, you show your team safety comes first. You can also improve your shop condition with modern technology, like: 

  • Laptops and advanced diagnostic tools: These items can make a technician’s job cleaner and more efficient. 
  • Service management software: This technology can help track repairs and maintenance and improve the performance of the entire shop. It allows teams to work more cohesively, knowing everyone is pulling their weight. 

Young technicians expect a modern workplace. As trucks get more complicated, your tools must become equally advanced. Having the right tools improves workflow and keeps your team on the cutting edge as innovations reach your commercial vehicles.


In nearly every industry, opportunities for growth keep employees engaged. This is especially true in fleet management. Many management-level professionals in the trucking industry start out as entry-level technicians

After picking up the basics, a technician has many opportunities for advancement:

  • They can specialize in parts or certain types of repairs.
  • They can climb the corporate ladder.
  • They can be promoted to different positions because of the various skills that go into fleet maintenance.

Travis Leybeck of the TechForce Foundation calls this the “career lattice.” Where the traditional career ladder has one direction, fleet maintenance has multiple paths to choose from. Many young technicians don’t realize what opportunities are out there.

Millennial and Generation Z technicians have a hunger for advancement. When these team members get passed over for promotions, it may cause them to look for a new job. By setting clear standards for pay increases, you can let your team members know what it takes to succeed at your company. 

It’s also smart to focus on promoting from within, rather than seeking outside hires. Poaching top talent in the automotive services industry is a major factor that contributes to retention issues. Your staff members are less likely to receive promotions when you bring in outside hires. These hires can easily be poached again with a higher offer if they are willing to hop positions. Meanwhile, your current staff may be tempted away with better job offers elsewhere.

You can boost your technician retention by making opportunities readily available to your new and current team members:

  • Current employees: It’s vital to give new educational opportunities to current employees. Almost 30% of fleet technicians say they would take a job in a different industry if the company promised to train them. Ongoing professional development gives technicians the chance to learn about new concentrations. You can fill in your skills gap while helping your employees advance within your company. It also keeps your staff ahead of the curve as new technologies crop up.
  • New employees: It’s also critical to realize the technician shortage starts with new hires. An Automotive Service Excellence survey revealed 42% of new technicians leave trucking within two years. This drop-off rate highlights the need for early training. Many service managers recognize the gap between trade school education and expectations for new technicians. The right training early on can make new hires feel more prepared and keep promising recruits engaged.

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Workplace culture is another way to beat the technician shortage. Employees in any field want to feel valued. They want to be treated as part of a team and know their hard work is appreciated. Many employees weigh whether they feel respected when considering their options with their current company. It’s crucial to foster a sense of positivity and appreciation within your work culture. 

Teamwork and internal culture is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also necessary to make the service department feel like a part of the entire corporation. If senior management treats technicians as disposable, technicians will not feel valued. The current diesel technician shortage is proof that technicians’ skills are not expendable. It’s essential to include your technician crew in events and other workplace initiatives. Demonstrating your appreciation for hard work and specialized skills can go a long way.


Most public schools do not have the robust vocational tracks they once did. Even trade schools are not preparing students for entry-level service positions. New technicians generally focus on preventative maintenance, brakes, and other low-risk tasks. As a result, fleets are seeing fewer qualified applicants.

You can invest in the future of fleet service in the following ways:

  • Partnering with schools to update their programs: Vocational schools rely on industry partners to provide relevant, hands-on training. By working with local schools to update training and donate modern tools, your company can have a more prepared workforce in the coming years. It may also help retention as new hires are ready to succeed.
  • Developing work-study programs: By hiring technical school students, fleets can supplement formal training with real experience. A work-study commitment can lead to better skills down the line, and can also have an impact on initial retention. Many students who complete work studies are hired by the companies they work under. Other companies ask for a multiple-year commitment in exchange for invaluable career training.
  • Partnering with specialized training programs to offer scholarships: Students from some training programs who receive scholarships from the company they work for have an 85% retention rate. Other school partnerships can have long-term payoffs. By working with local schools at career fairs, you can influence how young people see the field. While this won’t bring recruits into your service bay tomorrow, it can help close the gap that’s expected to rise over the next several years.

Technician Working in Shop

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