Many of today's baby boomer diesel mechanics are approaching retirement, meaning a severe shortage of the mechanics may be on the horizon, according to Transport Topics.
In 2004, the Department of Labor estimated that mechanic shops would need 205,000 more diesel technicians by 2014 to fill new positions that will be created and to replace positions that will open up when workers change fields or retire.
In other words, the recession hasn't stopped the workforce from aging. A representative for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence said only about 10 percent of the graduating technicians every year are diesel and truck technicians. "That means a significant shortfall," said the Institute's vice president of communications Tony Molla.
A service manager for Mountain West Truck Center said good diesel mechanics are becoming "dinosaurs." The service manager, Dick Fazzio, said many graduates are looking to become computer or game technicians and "don't want to get dirty."
And Chad Enyeart, a coordinator for the diesel/advanced diesel program at Wyoming Technical Institute, or WyoTech, a trade school in Laramie, Wyo., said it takes time for many graduates to hit the ground running after graduation.
In addition, many technician graduates end up leaving the industry. George Arrants, business development manager at Cengage Learning Inc., Florence, Ky., said "They wash out or decide to take another trade." He added that a result of the auto and diesel technician shortage will be higher cost of repairs.
"The only thing education can't teach is experience," Arrants said.