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Mechanics draw strong hiring demand in industry

March 18, 2019 GMT

Specialty vehicles keep the economy running, and mechanics are the backbone to keeping heavy-duty transportation options on the road.

Nerv Thomas, president of Swift International Service Group Inc., said demand is high at his company.

“It is driven by the strength in the local economy, growth, and expansion taking place at our company,” Thomas said.

METRO has a high demand for mechanic positions in the bus and rail operations divisions, and in the planning, engineering, construction (PEC department), which includes facilities maintenance.

“The bus and light-rail vehicle mechanic positions call for maintaining, repairing, troubleshooting, and inspecting our 1,200-bus fleet to our 76 light-rail vehicles. METRO has Siemens and CAF light-rail vehicles. Our bus fleet varies from hybrid to diesel fueled vehicles,” said Jacqueline Gil, METRO spokesperson.

The New York Times reported the shortage of technicians is so acute that BMW began its own recruiting program in its article, Shortage of Auto Mechanics Has Dealerships Taking Action.

Requirements can vary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a program at a post-secondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Swift International, which operates under USDOT guidelines, requires mechanics are certified in brake repairs. Its fleet is comprised of buses, day-cab trucks, Yard Mules, flatbed trailers, fuel trucks, and vans, Thomas said.

“Our company requires a minimum of five to seven years of experience working on the major engine brands like Caterpillar, Detroit and Cummings engines with certification of completion of one if their technical courses. Such a diverse fleet demands that our mechanics master a multitude of disciplines including electrical, mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic systems,” Thomas said.

Salary is varied. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians’ median annual wage was $49,440 in May 2017.

Technology is also impacting the industry, Thomas said.

“With more advanced engines and fewer qualified mechanics, we have greater failure rates and higher maintenance and repair costs. Demand is increasing the rate we pay for mechanics from an average of $21 per hour to an average rate of $28 per hour in today’s economy,” Thomas said.

Qualifying METRO employees receive an incentive up to $4,000. Requirements are a high school diploma or equivalent, and a minimum of three years of working experience. A certification from an accredited technical program with courses in automotive body repair technology is preferred. METRO offers Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications and additional training to prospective employees.