MEDA Board of Directors Blog
Best Practices in Economic Development from Experienced Leaders
Closer Look at Industry Sector Leads to New Program
With all of the recent programs that are focusing on Talent Attraction, let’s not lose sight of the needs of our existing businesses that have different talent needs other than the “in-demand” jobs with the “in-demand” degrees. There are probably a number of your employers with job openings requiring highly technical certifications, which may be different from what’s being targeted as “in-demand”. These are also great livable wage jobs.
It came to light through Saginaw Future’s retention call program on area trucking, distribution and heavy equipment manufacturers and operators that there was a significant need for diesel technicians. Saginaw County has a very large concentration of these types of companies along the I-75 corridor between Birch Run and Buena Vista. We learned that nearly every company we called on had a need to hire one or two technicians so Saginaw Future took a proactive roll to lead an effort to help meet these needs.
As a first step, Saginaw Future met with the area trucking association, the Tri City Chapter of the Equipment & Maintenance Division of the Michigan Trucking Association, and conducted an informal survey at their meeting and then by a follow-up email to all of their members. It was determined that a minimum of 20 mechanics would be needed over the next 12 months, sparking enough interest for a “Fast Start” program and the ability to move forward.
The Fast Start program is something that Delta College has been partnering on with the Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! for a number of years to help area employers meet their talent needs in a short period of time. Delta already had an auto mechanic associate degree program, but nothing that included the skillsets needed for diesel engines.
Our next step was to coordinate meetings with the companies, Delta College and Michigan Works! to determine how the design and funding of such a program could possibly take place. Over the course of a couple of months, we met regularly to determine curriculum, funding for the equipment needed and possible financial assistance to enrolled students. Delta was instrumental in providing the necessary staff that could help with the curriculum and look for grant opportunities for funding. The Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! provided assistance with student funding via the Skilled Trades Training now the Going Pro funding. They were able to assist with funding for classroom training and the tools needed by the students to perform actual work on diesel engines.
A funding opportunity then arose through the Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation in Saginaw and Delta developed and submitted a request for funding. Their request for $726,024 in support of a new Diesel Technician Program was subsequently awarded. The funding included monies for the purchase of tools, equipment, training and faculty certification. Delta College staff then finalized the curriculum.
Finally, in order to put together the first “Fast Start” training program we needed to seek employer input to send trainees (current employees and recent new hires). This was secured through emails and personal contact. We were able to get enough participants to provide our employers with their first “Fast Start” program, which was a resounding success.
Today, Delta College offers a Heavy Duty Diesel Technician program with two options-an associates’ degree or entrance into a Fast Start program. The employment outlook for entry-level heavy duty diesel service technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Completing the Heavy Duty Diesel (HDD) Service Technology Associate Degree prepares a person for an entry-level career as a HDD service technician. The program includes the fundamentals of the operation and preventive maintenance of heavy duty diesel systems and hands-on training. The technical HDD classes cover a variety of diesel-powered vehicles, engines and power systems.
Licenses & Certifications
The Delta College HDD program includes a certification exam from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The HDD ASE exam provides an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of heavy-duty diesel service at a master service technician level. Many employers require this ASE certification credentials when hiring HDD technicians.
As a heavy-duty diesel service technician, you may be required to have a commercial driver’s license to be able to test-drive large trucks and other vehicles.
- Access to all Delta College resources in academics, financial aid, career services and student life
- Cost savings
- Study close to home on Delta College’s main campus
- Wide variety of hands-on educational settings … face-to-face and online classes
- ASE Heavy Duty Diesel certification exam included in program
- Dual enrollment options
- Financial aid available
Authored by Steve Jonas. Steve Jonas is the executive vice president of Saginaw Future Inc., a private nonprofit economic development organization serving Saginaw County. Steve has been employed in economic development for over 30 years and his primary area of expertise is the Corporate Watch Program, a county-wide business retention call program. He is a past President of MEDA 2002 and is currently the Chair of the Certified Business Park Committee.
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