Editor’s Note: This guest blog from Joe Dykes, VP of Industry Relations for the Equipment Dealers Assn. is a response to Executive Editor Kim Schmidt’s Feb. 25 blog, Filling the Workforce Pipeline

The Equipment Dealers Assn. would like to share some information on our recent efforts in the workforce development space. 

The Equipment Dealers Foundation (EDF), the charitable arm of EDA, has made workforce development a priority in the last few years. As such, in 2017, the foundation hosted its first Workforce Development Summit. We gathered equipment dealers, equipment manufacturers, association executives, people from the education sector and other industry stakeholders to discuss the state of the industry in regards to workforce development and what we could do, collaboratively, to improve it. 

The problem was, and is, a lack of skilled tradespeople (#skillsgap). We established two main action items from this first meeting: develop a toolkit that dealers and manufactures can use to recruit the types of employees they need and create a resource for students who are interested in working in technical position. We are proud to say that both of these goals have been met!

The Student Resource Database contains information on technical programs, local and national scholarship opportunities and job openings. All of this is available on a state-by-state basis using an interactive map tool.

EDA assisted in the development of AEM’s Workforce Development Toolkit that you mention in your article. We continue to work closely with AEM on the promotion of the toolkit to equipment dealers.

The second Workforce Development Summit is scheduled for October 16, 2019. It will be held in Louisville, Ky., in conjunction with the GIE+EXPO. Anyone interested in attending should contact Alex Hoffman at ahoffman@equipmentdealer.org.

We’re also approaching this issue from another direction: the teachers. Since its inception, the EDF has provided scholarships to students looking to begin or further a career in the ag or OPE industry, but in 2018, on the heels of the summit, we were presented with an opportunity to engage teachers in our mission to close the skills gap. We partnered with the Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education (CASE) program to provide partial scholarships to teachers that enables them to bring ag education back to their classrooms. In this way we are able to reach hundreds, if not thousands of students each year.

EDA and EDF are excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish in two short years but know we have more work to do. Our working group, a team of individuals from various sectors of the ag world who are dedicated to resolving our workforce development dilemmas, has monthly calls to discuss the problems we’re facing and brainstorm solutions.  We know this is an industry-wide problem and we look forward to continued collaboration. Anyone who wants to join EDA’s working group should contact Natalie Higgins at nhiggins@equipmentdealer.org.

Thank you,

Joe Dykes
VP, Industry Relations
Equipment Dealers Association