Discussion:
WHERE IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF TECHS?

The discussion started by JD Burton posed some interesting questions concerning finding and hiring Techs for the Liftruck Industry. Where are they and why do most you cross train from automotive or from the truck shops not staying?
# What is the reason we can't get the younger ones interested in this Industry?
# What do you think can be done to make it more appealing ?


I thought that this topic was worth continuing, and maybe come up with some answers that might solve the problem.

Thanks in advance for your reply!!
  • Posted 23 Apr 2008 08:54
  • Modified 23 Apr 2008 09:16 by poster
  • Discussion started by roadrat
  • North Carolina, United States
"ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?"
Showing items 1 - 15 of 38 results.
Our public school systems are not nor were they every intended to be a vocational training ground (although students are exposed to some very basic technical/technology classes if the the student elects) This why trade & technical schools exists after the kids get Reading, Writing ,Arithmetic, Science, Social Studies stuff down in 12 years of education (and they - meaning school systems, parents, etc - ain't doing too good of job at that these days).
Yes, physical science, chemistry is still taught in high school but metallurgy is taught in Colleges and in Technical schools.

There are forklift dealers that work with local vocational /technical schools and provide students with exposure to lift "mechanics" by having dealership personnel put on evening classes for the students - usually training personnel & of course, for pay. Maybe this might be up your alley & you could retire earlier than your current plan of "no hope for retirement".
  • Posted 27 Sep 2010 11:16
  • Reply by johnr_j
  • Georgia, United States
NotroiousDUG has it partially right. Not only are the school systems chasing the possible young techs away. They are not teaching the necessary basics in class. What happened to the physical sciences. Todays young people graduating from Highschool don't know what happens to steel when heated or cooled. They couldn't begin to explain boyles law or ohms law.
I have been in this business 40 years with no hope of retirement. I can't even get my company to put together a 1/2 hour training sesion once a month. We can't hope to train younger techs unless we take the time to teach them as early in school as possible. First grade would be about right. If the manufactures had any sense they would be supplying the education system with materials to promote the business. The business of maintaining and repairing their equipment. Keeping it running so as to not chase away customers with poorly maintained equipment.
I worked at a very large company in the "Fork Lift Shop" for over 20 years. 8 years as lead mechanic. We had several thousand trucks. Every make and model sold at that time. Ya our purchasing engineer wasn't to sharp. I was approched by a upper management manager once and she said she has heard good things about me. Every one in the shops (We had 4) said I was great at teaching them when they got stuck on a job. When she asked why I spent so much time willing to train younger techs. My answer was because I was lazy. I figured the more I could teach them the less I would have to do myself. It doesn't pay to hold on to any information. It won't help you in the end.
I want to retire but I haven't taught younger techs all my knowledge. The best advice I would give a new tech is don't memorize all the specs and data about all the trucks, its all in the book. Just remember where the book is. A clean manual proves the tech isn't doing anything but parts swaping and guessing.
There are times when we don't have manuals, thats when experience comes in. If your dealership won't supply manuals or today it is probably on CDs, they will pay the price of poor quality repairs and eventualy loose the customer. A $100 manual and $25 switch is far cheaper than a $2100 rework job and the eating of a control module that now can't be returned because it is used. Our dealer will gladly sell the competition manuals. It may make them able to repair our trucks. Just means we have to be able to be better in other ways, cost and delivery of service, parts pricing to name a few.
Younger techs will have to carry the load in a few years. Us old f*rts need to pass on as much knowledge as possible. They haven't made an industrial fork lift yet that an operator can't break. They haven't made one that repairs itself. As long as man makes machines, man can and will break them. It is not cost effective yet to toss the truck out when it breaks.
Albeit there are a few relics out there that have been around much longer than I, that I would like to toss out.
I would like to see some college or business start teaching not only forklift repair but machinery repair. Perferably in the Phoenix area where I want to retire to and maybe teach!!!!! If everyone in the industry would share their knowledge with other techs in their company. We would have a much easier time of things. I know to share between dealers is asking for way too much. Nice thought though. Pass on your knowledge
  • Posted 27 Sep 2010 01:15
  • Reply by oldmanforklift
  • Arizona, United States
Its very hard to "break into" any trade without connections, heck look at me, I've been trying to dig up service manuals for the last year!!!! and I still get no help, not many people will give you a hand in this competative field and flat out, most young people want a "sexier" career than forklift service. Sorry boys!
  • Posted 23 Feb 2010 00:39
  • Reply by ryan_w
  • Pennsylvania, United States
Even though I've been in this industry for sooo long I still don't get it. Not many students are being steered toward the trades. In our area, plumbers are charging $150 per hour; $100 for the plumber and $50 for the helper who basically watches the plumber work and hands him tools when he needs them. I've asked how can they justify charging so much and the answer is always the same..."there aren't enough plumbers to go around so we have to charge more."
Sounds familiar to me.
How many trained forklift mechanics are in your state? In NH I would guess there are about 20.
  • Posted 15 Feb 2010 22:43
  • Reply by duodeluxe
  • United States
duodeluxe
notoriousDUG. on the money......where i work the mentor to a lot of us has retired...some of the the older guys are still under the theory of man, if a new kid comes in, we show him all we know we are now outdated...some are nervous to tip there hand and show them the ropes......which builds animosity..also if the new kid comes in (and this one came from a flat rate dealership).. we are constantly telling him to slow down to understand systems and to learn... if the the new generation does not understand how to pace yourself and schedule your repairs and to judge how long it should take they will work them and us out of jobs..rip and tear is great...but to understand and to reassemble without a comeback is priceless
  • Posted 15 Feb 2010 20:07
  • Modified 15 Feb 2010 20:51 by poster
  • Reply by michael_b
  • Michigan, United States
fix it right no hacks!
To address the original question:

There are no young people coming into the maintenance end of the industry because it is a skilled trade and we, as a society, have pushed our youth away from the skilled trades and continue to do so. We tell all of our youth that the path to success is as much college as possible and white collar job. We push our brightest students away from any kind of skilled trade or manual labor no matter what their interests or aptitudes are; this implies to them that blue collar jobs are somehow 'lesser' jobs. This has been going on for years and is only getting worse. When I was in high school int he 90's my councilors pushed me away from the career path I wanted as a aircraft mechanic because I was, 'To smart for that kind of work.' Never mind that it was the sort of work I enjoy and had an aptitude for and had good earning potential; in the eyes of the PC zombies that run our schools it could not possibly have been as good or fulfilling a job as being an accountant, never mind how much I would have hated an office job...

Material handling is not the only trade to be feeling this pinch. HVAC, automotive, plumbing and other industries are having trouble finding good young techs interested in a career as a tradesman. Personally I think we are headed for a big mess in the next couple of decades as the last of the skilled 'old timers' retire.

Personally I have stopped trying to hire people out of tech schools or other industries because often, due to the fact that we steer smart kids away from the trades, the people coming out of these schools just don't have the skills to pay the bills when it comes down to real world trouble shooting. Anymore I hire people with mechanical aptitude and concentrate on training them up in house.

Finding good people in our industry is also complicated by the fact that many of our techs are on the road and working in what are not always the best conditions. It makes the work a challenge, one I enjoy but many other people do not. Then there is the fact that we have to deal with many different systems that make a lift truck technician need greater skills then the average auto tech.
  • Posted 14 Feb 2010 07:27
  • Reply by notoriousDUG
  • Illinois, United States
Deeds not words
First big difference in shop tech vs road tech. Road techs in our dealership make more money. The reason ? Diversity. Most work in the elements. Most are dealing with the customer decision maker face to face. We work on any type of equipment, no matter who or what makes it. So pay scale really depends on the tech. If you are worth it, you'll get paid. But be prepared in this day and age for the ultimate question, CAN YOU BRING CUSTOMERS ! If you can, you'll get paid. If you can't, then you just aren't that valuable because the dealer has to pay you more then he would a new trainee or transfer technician. Lets face it, money talks. I know techs who are marginal at diagnostic/troubleshooting but customers love them. I know techs who can fix anything but the chip on their shoulder and attitude of I am the greatest prevent them from obtaining customers and keeping them long term. As far as the next generation, you have to find them and it aint easy. But it can be done, especially now with a bad economy. You have to have your own training program and be willing to spend the money and invest in this project or you will keep getting the bad pennies and keep tryin to polish it. Not all young guys are computer geeks. They are out there, just have to really put an emphasis on it and work at it.
  • Posted 12 Feb 2010 00:36
  • Reply by Servicefirst
  • Maryland, United States
If you always do what you always done, you will always get what you always gotten.
I'm not saying we don't help others in the field, or keep all we learned to ourselfs, but there are a hundred of things that keep us above all the rest. If three techs left tradeschool, one went highway truck, one went heavy equipment and one went material handling, all making the same amount, who would have to work harder, highway truck and heavy equipment go to shops, have a service manager and parts guys, someone to pick up parts, etc, the material handling guy goes to the customer, gets his own parts, gets yelled at when something isnt right, this is the case for me, and plenty others out there I know. I think another 5 or so bucks an hour is worth for some of the abuse I get.
  • Posted 25 Nov 2009 02:00
  • Reply by Barfly_olaf
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
SEMPER FIDELIS
Self taught.... Me too. Seven months on a cold wet washrack before I was given the "opportunity" to become the PM guy. I ended up fired from 2 jobs after that as a young mechanic. Took a job driving a truck while I went to Vo Tech for Industrial Instrumentation. Early 80's, no jobs inthis field- but ended up as a road tech for the White Dealership (I am pretty sure that their hiring criteria was pretty lax:)). But, intrument training opened my eyes to some applied science and physics- which of course we all use. Ended up working at the Clark dealership about '83- and we had Al Kemp. Retired army, methodical, "what's the system?" he would ask of the young techs smart enough to realize that this man could show you how to troubleshoot and fix things. We never looked on a service manual- we just asked Al. 355 steer cylinders, hydratorque transmissions, steer axle jobs with new center pins we replaced. Great training. A few years later when I made the move to the Cat dealership I realized they had books you could read to find answers. Imagine that!
  • Posted 25 Nov 2009 00:51
  • Reply by Forkliftt
  • Louisiana, United States
Look; i'm not an auto tech but have been a forklift field tech for over 35 years so as much as I dislike working on autos and in defense of the auto tech; auto's also have the "big four" including electrics, computers etc... It's unfortunate the way the world is today but "it is what it is" so to speak. The easy way seems to be the way the younger generations want it; we as the "the older generation" let it happen. To improve everyone needs to work hard to achieve their goals; but today everyone seems to want it all and they want it all NOW! It seems they believe they deserve it. What happened to "working your way up" I to was self taught; but if I see a young mechanic having issues with a job; I offer assistance and most of the time it's appreciated and if it's not than I have learned something. If we are really concerned with the future of forklfit tech's then maybe as the older generation of tech's we should lobby for the cause at every opporunity
  • Posted 25 Nov 2009 00:19
  • Reply by cownd
  • Arizona, United States
orchidlane29@gmail.com
you know, Barfly, you do have a very good point about how many different type of power plants lift trucks have compared to truck or auto repair shops.
The folks working on all those different types of power plants in the industrial truck industry need to have very diverse backgrounds and training.

You do know you can edit your own posts l8r don'tcha?
  • Posted 24 Nov 2009 11:22
  • Modified 24 Nov 2009 22:28 by poster
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
Around here, techs in this trade all came from different backgrounds, and is a tightly knit woven spiderweb, I've started at one dealer, when I couldnt get any more money, went to another dealer, and could do it again. It took the last dealer almost a year to find a replacement. I felt bad, but its about me. As for the pay, personally I think forklift techs are worth more money for 2 reasons, 1 most of us are self taught, because like a lot of guys said, thereisn't a lot of support, also we need to learn competitors machines, as there are no guidelines in the industriy, ie OBD2, 3 etc. 2, we have to know not one but 4 different engine systems, diesel, gas, LP NAtural gas, were most truck shops are deisel and most auto shops are gas, and fothe fun of it, throw in electrical more so of wiring and cumputers, scrs, diodes, thyrsters cathodes, etc, Throw these ingreients, know wonder people run from the trade
  • Posted 24 Nov 2009 10:43
  • Reply by Barfly_olaf
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
SEMPER FIDELIS
we tried the local community college thing and it took off with a bang, got factory support for equipment and refferal and after 1 semester all but two of the students decided that the work would be too hard and heavy and they would rather work in the auto world with air conditioned shops and rock and roll music. we hired the remaining two, one of which stuck with it and is a very good tech now. i find that work ethic is a large portion of why there are few replacements behind us. many of the youngsters that are intelligent enough to do the job dont have to, and the ones that have to arent intelligent enough to be good at it (generalization) of course that makes us more valuable as we get too old to do anything with the money but give it to our "kids". funny the way the world works!!
  • Posted 24 Nov 2009 06:49
  • Reply by rick_c
  • Texas, United States
technology: (no user serviceable parts inside)
Not sure how it works over in the states but my experience in the uk I was trained as a car mechanic worked in garages for **** poor money saw the bright lights of the forklift industry and was wooed by the much better wages. Now twenty years on in a recession I am treated like the dirt under your boots and told I will have to give more and more back just to keep my job and be greatfull and lo and behold garage mechanics are on £15-£20 an hour!!! Isn`t hind sight a wonderfull thing.
  • Posted 24 Nov 2009 05:34
  • Reply by daryl_j
  • manchester, United Kingdom
Flight System Industrial Products offers training schools for service techs. We cover basic electronics, motor control theory, panel components and troubleshooting. These classes are designed to help techs understand basic forklift electronics and how to quickly and easily find the root of the problem, the first time. These classes are taught by a 33 year veteran to the industry. We have added a 3-Day class this fall that will cover all of the above. November 4-6. They do fill up quickly. You can visit our website to register and to get more detailed information. fsip.biz The techs are provided a certification upon completion along with written training manuals. We also carry and sell training manuals, dvds and troubleshooting equipment which you can view on our website or online catalog. Our plans are to expand our service schools and we are open to your suggestions on additional topics that you would like to see covered. We look forward to hearing from you.
  • Posted 3 Sep 2009 22:10
  • Modified 3 Sep 2009 22:21 by poster
  • Reply by pam_j
  • Pennsylvania, United States
Pam Jones
Flight Systems Industrial Products
Sales Manager
http://www.fsip.biz

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