The Recreation Vehicle Service Training Council (RVSTC), having firmly established a distance learning program via satellite and the Internet to certify service technicians, should turn its attention to recruiting more people who want to become service techs.
That was the consensus of council members meeting earlier this week during RVIA Committee Week at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“We need to get out our planning skills again and get after the recruiting process of bringing new people into the industry,” said RVSTC Chairman Mel Adams, president and CEO of industry supplier Airxcel Inc., Wichita, Kan. “We need to promote being an RV technician as a career path, not only for young people coming out of high school or tech school, but other people looking for careers who may have no idea that this field even exists.”
An informal survey in May of industry members who visit RVBUSINESS.COM found that 69% of those responding felt the industry shortage of tech workers is going to get worse, even though 64% said they were spending more on tech training.
Greg DeWalt, president of DeWalt’s RV Inc., Easton, Pa., and chairman of the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) Education Foundation, said that it’s difficult to recruit people to become service techs without supporting materials.
“I go out to the local schools to talk to students about becoming RV techs, but I have no materials to hand them,” DeWalt said. “There is no consolidated effort to market and promote the career of being an RV service technician.”
RVSTC member Jay Hesse, president of Automatic Equipment Mfg. Co., dba Blue Ox, Pender, Neb., said the shortage of technicians goes to the heart of service issues that will determine whether RV owners remain in the lifestyle.
“With Go RVing, we bring all these customers in and we’re not really prepared to take care of them,” Hesse said. “There are a lot of individual pieces going on out there, but there is not one concerted effort.”
The RVSTC in September will enter its fifth year of providing basic and advanced RV service technician training classes to some 200 dealerships outside of Florida. The council estimates that some 2,000 people are accessing the 80 hours of classes that are delivered via satellite or through the Internet from Lake City (Fla.) Community College once a week for 40 weeks.
Several hundred new technicians have been certified by the RVDA/RVIA Technicians Certification Board, run jointly by the dealer’s and manufacturer’s associations.
During the meeting Adams appointed a committee to be headed by Stan Sunshine, president of distributor Stag-Parkway Inc., Atlanta, Ga., to reassess RVSTC’s mission in light of member concerns about staffing levels.
“I anticipate that we will be changing our direction some,” Adams said. “I think there is an almost universal understanding throughout the industry that technicians’ training and retention are much more important factors today than they were five years ago.
“And they will be even more important factors five years from now if we don’t do some things today.”