From my front porch, I can see that my neighbors are starting to put up decorations to celebrate Halloween. But sometimes the real world can be the most surreal of all. A scary part of our reality today is our truck industry’s workforce shortage. It’s time that we come together and tackle this monster head-on.
For years, truck dealerships around the nation have struggled with a technician shortage that threatens the health of our businesses and local economies. For dealers to meet future staffing demands from retiring workers and those learning about new technologies, our industry requires thousands of skilled people and especially technicians by 2026. A drought in our workforce means that many well-paying local jobs will remain unfilled and we will have difficulty getting the necessary people – and skill sets – to move the trucks that move America. Ultimately, this can harm the financial health of our dealerships and the costs can trickle down to our customers and ultimately all consumers served by trucking.
Last month I had the privilege of attending the White House economic summit with fellow NADA and ATD leaders. We had a unique opportunity to meet with White House officials, like National Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spoke about critical issues such as economic, budget, tax and trade policies. Meetings like this come on the heels of President Trump’s executive order which established the President’s National Council for the American Worker and the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. The council is developing a national strategy to address critical workforce issues, including a national campaign to raise awareness of the urgency of a job skills crisis. ATD applauds the president’s efforts as our industry struggles with recruiting and retaining technicians. Improving our pool of potential employees with skilled workers is a top priority, and I’m proud that the ATD and NADA leadership have been in discussions with the Trump administration to examine how we can be involved in this vital initiative.
As the year progresses, ATD will also work to promote the value of careers at dealerships by launching national campaigns. While we work hard on this, I urge you to log onto mydealership.org and share the truck dealership spot on your own websites and social media channels.
All told, our industry runs on more than 2,000 commercial-truck dealerships with more than 145,000 employees. Together, we produce $85 billion in sales, but the heart of our businesses rest in our people who work with us day in and day out. We will tackle our workforce issue head-on so that the future of our industry remains strong.
Teuton is ATD chairwoman and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana, a full-service dealership with seven locations in the state (Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport), a full-service Hino dealership (Baton Rouge) and Southland Truck Leasing at all dealership locations. ATD, a division of the National Automobile Dealers Association, represents more than 1,800 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealerships.