Maintenance Workforce

United Skills of America - Close the Skills Gap with this App!

Want to join the movement of the United Skills of America?  

United Skills of America is striving to build the next generation of skilled technicians through a major campaign in concert with Career Technical Education programs, community college goals, and the Center for America.  This initiative is supported by United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and HVAC Service Techs, Robeson Community Col

lege of Lumberton, N.C., and technicians like Marty Tauber, a maintenance trainer of Portland, Maine.

Take a brief minute and try our Occupy a Job App - Yes, there is now an app for that too!

Elevate the Maintenance Profession: Start in the Trenches


During the 2012 Golden Globes Award Ceremony in Hollywood, CA, the Foreign press recognized the best in movie and television. Two days ago the best in the music business were recognized at the widely viewed Grammys.  This got me thinking; why can’t we glorify real workers who propel our economies forward? Why don’t we recognize maintenance heroes with more fanfare? Why doesn’t our president invite the best maintenance leaders to discuss energy cost saving techniques?  Our president recognizes the  Super Bowl winners and national college athletes. Why can’t he acknowledge those who are going the extra mile to keep our buildings, our businesses and machines performing at high levels within severe budget constraints on a daily basis?

Emerging Technologies and New Talent Pools

We are in the midst of a maintenance crisis and are facing highly sophisticated equipment challenges, budget cut backs, a mass exodus of skilled talent, and social stigmas that inhibit our youth from pursuing maintenance career paths.

This raises key questions. How can we quickly backfill the exiting boomer generation? How can we accelerate learning curves and how can we uncover new talent pools?

Well, I believe that the return of the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is exciting news and they should be given a heroes' welcome!  We can do this by giving them the opportunity to develop new career paths in the maintenance field, and hopefully avoid the pitfalls we have seen in the past.

What is your company doing to reach out to veterans?

How are you developing your workforce?

As the U.S. and other countries are moving forward to deal with today's challenges, more leaders are becoming enlightened to the fact that we are no longer in an arms race, but actually a skills race. The countries with the most advanced skill labor pools will be able to retain and attract companies, leading to economic growth.

A challenge associated with developing and retaining talent in companies is what I like to call the "training paradox": when money is plentiful, time available to send people to training is scarce. Conversely, when money is constrained, time is often plentiful to send people to training. Making the commitment to send workers to training in either scenario is hard, but it must be done, as you can see after reading some of the alternative training programs below. 

Fighting the Maintenance Crisis

In industry we are very aware of the plight of skilled trades. To compete companies have been cutting back their staff, deferring maintenance almost to chronic levels to save money and have been adding automation systems thus increasing the complexity of the environment.  With the average age of the skilled workforce reportedly in early 50’s, a mass exodus is upon. However, to backfill these very valuable skill sets the next generation are clouded with negative stigmas of these often lucrative career paths and thus do not pursue the education needed to be qualified to fill these positions.

U.S. companies find themselves in the awkward situation; despite 10% unemployment rate and  plenty of bodies to fill vacant or soon to be vacant jobs, there are very few with the skill sets needed to run their equipment, manage their maintenance performance and deliver reliability consistently. More companies are beginning to realize that they no longer operate as pirates - by acquiring others talent - and having to become farmers and grow their own talent pools.  That is why companies like the Marshall Institute with their fast track training curriculum are so valuable.

The Maintenance Skill-Gap: Act Now!

The conversation about the aging U.S. workforce and skills shortage has been discussed with increased volume over the last two decades. The forecast statements of the 80's and 90's are now a reality.  Our baby boomer generation is retiring and we need to effectively manage their departure from the labor force with adequate skill replacement. 

There are many elements to this transition that I won't cover; however, I would like to direct your attention to an article by Bob Williamson in the January issue of Maintenance Technology magazine. In part 1 of his 2 part series, “Growing Your Own”, Bob provides a framework for growing and developing skilled technicians. He also outlines a 7-step process for assessing the skills and abilities of current employees and new hires. This is a timely and useful article. Read the full article