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Need for diesel techs remains strong as EVs enter market

Diesel technicians are an integral part of the trucking industry. As vocational schools begin to create educational and training plans for electric vehicle service mechanics, the recruiting efforts for diesel techs remains strong, as reported by Commercial Carrier Journal.

The number of diesel technicians took a blow during the COVID-19 pandemic and is still attempting to fully rebound, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The steady recruiting efforts for diesel techs amid plans of training electric service mechanics comes as good news for shops in need of rebounding their diesel tech numbers.

Looking into the next decade, the industry will see over 28,000 diesel tech positions opening annually. Experts don’t expect any problems to be caused by the simultaneously anticipated training of electric service techs.

WyoTech, a Wyoming-based technical college, keeps a pulse on the trucking industry’s technician count as they work to train tomorrow’s technicians. Shawn Nunley, vice president of training at WyoTech said they are “not concerned about losing diesel students [to electric.]”

Diesel Technology Forum released a report that shows diesel is responsible for powering 97% of Class 8 trucks and every three out of four smaller or medium sized commercial trucks. Nunley referred to this report when explaining his confidence in the diesel tech industry.

“EV’s are still too much in their infancy and currently posing very concerning test results in terms of viability and performance to see any sizable shift away from the pressing demand for diesel technicians,” he said. “Our employers are hard pressed to find enough diesel technicians to fill the massive demand in the market and we do not see that shifting soon.”

This feeling extends to other U.S. training centers. Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) went into 2022 with an announcement for electric powertrain courses, however, they are not worried about this impacting the number of diesel students, said DTNA spokesperson Whitney Anderson.

“Not at this time,” Anderson said. “This is a very calculated ramp up and technicians can work on both with the proper training.”

Some training centers have yet to feel any influence at all swaying them toward training students in electric vehicles. New Village Institute (NVI), based in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, has kept their focus on diesel students.

“NVI plans to evolve our training program along with the industry as it changes,” said campus director Chris Barton. “Right now, we currently don’t have a focus on electric trucks, but we continue to have discussions with industry partners on the technology, their plans and timeline to incorporate it, etc.”

He believes that when students begin to study electric vehicle maintenance in higher numbers, they’ll need the foundational knowledge that comes with being a diesel tech.

“It’s possible that EV technology could attract a different type of student who is more interested in a high-tech career path,” Barton said, “but initially they will still need to be willing and able to perform many of the current maintenance and repair duties of a diesel technician.”