Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) is continuing its support for the construction and aggregates industries and helping to address the skills gap. Over the summer, Volvo CE donated an excavator to support operator-training programs at Pennsylvania College of Technology, and participated in SkillsUSA and Skills/Compétences Canada’s annual competitions.
“In the U.S., an estimated 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled in 2011 and could grow to over two million in 10 years, according to a report from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte,” said Chuck Wood, vice president, Human Resource Management and Administration, Sales Region Americas, Volvo CE. “That’s a vast skills gap we could face, which is why it’s important for us, as an industry leader, to help support the future of our industry.”
Teaming up with its dealer Highway Equipment & Supply, Volvo CE donated equipment, including an EC220D excavator, to the operator training program at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Both companies have spent more than a decade supporting Pennsylvania College of Technology with equipment donations and other training resources. Ryan Flood, vice president of Highway Equipment, also serves on the program’s advisory council. Located in Williamsport, Pa., the college is affiliated with the Pennsylvania State University and has more than 5,000 students.
“The coursework at Penn College is more involved. We are learning the basics behind how to approach a job, as well as GPS technology and grading,” said Makenzie Witmer, a student of the program.
Demand is high for students who complete the college’s degree in heavy construction equipment technology with an operator emphasis.
“The placement rate of our operator program is around 96 percent. The demand is large, as a lot of our older generation of operators is retiring,” said Ryan Peck, operator training program instructor at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Supporting the Future
The SkillsUSA and Skills/Compétences Canada competitions took place in Kentucky, and in Manitoba, Canada, respectively. During the events, Volvo CE and its partners – American dealer Rudd Equipment Company and Canadian dealer Westcon Equipment & Rentals Ltd. – exhibited equipment, offered students simulator training, and participated in panels discussing skills students needed to stay competitive in the industry.
Based in Louisville, Ky., Rudd Equipment provides complete equipment sales and service support to the mining, construction and associated industries in America.
Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Westcon Equipment & Rentals Ltd. supplies products and services to the construction, aggregate, road building and forestry markets in Canada.
“It was very rewarding to share the exciting changes happening in our field of expertise with the younger generations and to encouraged them to start a career in the industry,” Wood said. “The energy in the experienced professionals who served as judges and exhibitors was also high, and it’s refreshing to see them transferring expertise and skills knowledge to young students.”
Even though new technologies are makings jobs faster and easier, Wood advised that students should continue to develop and hone in on basic skills to maintain competitiveness.
“For example, a pilot should be able to navigate a plane smoothly even if the autopilot is not available,” Wood said. “Good skills not only lead to jobs, but also serve as the foundation from where you grow to achieve greater career success.”
The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference attracted more than 15,000 students, teachers, education leaders and representatives from over 600 national and regional corporations, trade associations and labor unions. About 6,000 state contest winners competed in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields at this national event.
The Skills Canada National Competition attracted 7,500 students from across Canada. More than 500 students from secondary or post-secondary schools were tested on their skills in six different sectors, including construction, manufacturing and engineering, employment, information technology, transportation and service.