The American Rental Association, Moline, Ill. and TechForce Foundation, Scottsdale, Ariz., are collaborating in an effort to raise the profile of trade and technical careers necessary to support future growth in the equipment rental industry.

TechForce Foundation is a leading, educational, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that has developed the FutureTech Success campaign, an industry-wide initiative to drive tomorrow’s workforce of technicians by inspiring, supporting and connecting middle- and high-school students and their influencers with the resources to support their technical education and career development. 

“We are excited to announce ARA’s support of the FutureTech Success campaign, and proud to be named an association partner,” said Tony Conant, ARA CEO. “The demand for skilled technicians to keep the equipment rental industry thriving has become increasingly dire. ARA recognizes that this labor shortage is a significant issue for our members and the industry as a whole. Partnering with TechForce Foundation is one step that ARA is taking to address the growing concern and provide resources that our members can benefit from.”

Conant was joined by TechForce Foundation CEO, Jennifer Maher at The Rental Show in New Orleans where they discussed the challenges that rental business operators face with finding people with tactile skills and the technical training to build, diagnose and maintain various types of equipment in the industry.

“Having ARA on board as an association partner with TechForce Foundation in the FutureTech Success campaign helps us reach a new audience and opens up opportunities for us to assist an additional segment of the industry,” said Maher. “There is power in numbers and the more companies and organizations that join in our cause and help share the message, the increased likelihood for success.

“For decades, technicians have been unfairly identified as ‘grease monkeys.’ It’s a label that was never true but, today, is just ridiculous when you consider the complexity of the equipment in the rental industry. Frankly, we’re out to disband that negative image once and for all. And, in the process, we want to inspire and support those who are looking for a secure and rewarding career that fits their talent and interests.”

According to the Technician Demand Report, published by TechForce Foundation, 125,000 new entrant technicians in auto, diesel and collision will be needed annually over the next 10 years. “If you look at the statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistic, they accounted only for new entrants in this career field but failed to account for the replacement component of demand, which is a considerable number,” said Maher. “The new BLS projection is more in line with what TechForce believes the demand to be.”

A number of factors have contributed to the current shortage, such as the growing economy, increased demand caused by the 2008 recession and the complexity of vehicles and equipment with more intricate diagnostics than ever before. Overcoming the misperception that a four-year degree is the only road to success in the United States and educating students and parents on the rewarding opportunities that a technician career can provide are the fundamental issues in overcoming the labor shortage, according to Maher.

Earlier this year, the ARA Foundation initiated the Technical Training Grants program, which is designed to provide financial assistance to rental business employees pursuing higher learning in areas from welding to hospitality services. This program assists employees with a minimum of 1,000 hours of service to a rental business who are eligible for up to 50 percent of the training costs, up to a maximum of $1,000.