Editor’s Note: In a recent Q&A with RV Executive Today magazine, Jeff Pastore, chairman of the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, discusses the RV market outlook, the growing need for trained, professional workers, and how the Learning Center fits in.

Q.  All signs point to another solid year of RV sales in 2014. What’s happening at RV dealerships in terms of hiring and training right now? 

A.  We’re seeing a recovery and increasing dealership employment. After some lean years, where many dealers had to cut back on personnel expense and training, there’s a demand for people in nearly all areas of dealership operations.

When you look at the sales volume of 2013 and what’s projected for this year, the industry is approaching pre-recessionary levels. So something has got to give – we have to hire more people to handle the business that’s out there.

Let’s take a quick look at RV technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of RV techs is down by nearly a third from the peak of the mid to late 80s. At one time, there were more than 14,000 RV techs employed, but now it’s about 11,000.  So the need to train new techs is a front-burner issue at many dealerships. There’s also a need for more people in fixed ops, sales, and other positions.

Q.  What’s the RV Learning Center’s role in technical training and certification?

A. Technician training and certification are key areas not only for the learning center, but for our partners at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), and with state associations. We really try to be a one-stop information source.

A great place to start is RVTechnician.com, which is a joint effort of the learning center and RVIA. It has lots of information on association-sponsored training, the RVIA service text books, and RVDA-RVIA RV Technician Certification Program information. Another RVIA partnership is the RV Industry Training Calendar at RVTrainingCalendar.com, where industry suppliers and trainers can list all types of educational events and technical training. The learning center also publishes RV Technician, an online magazine, six times per year.

For techs preparing for certification, the learning center registers and mentors participants in the RVIA-developed technician certification preparation courses on the online training site at OLT.RVST.org. More than 500 technicians are currently using the OLT for certification preparation or to earn continuing education credits.

The learning center also partners with FRVTA to market its Distance Learning Network platform nationally.  More than 130 dealerships are enrolled this year, which is a nice increase from recent years. The learning center also supports state associations that sponsor local training – some recent examples included events in New England and Iowa and the Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association’s efforts with Northampton Community College.

To read the complete Q&A, click here.