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7 Reasons Skilled Trades Are in Demand

Jun 17, 2020 ·

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many workers have unfortunately lost their jobs, and many businesses have been forced to close altogether.

Among the industries that have remained valuable during the coronavirus outbreak and that continue to be in demand are those that employ skilled trade workers.1

Technicians and collision repairers maintain and repair important vehicles like emergency transportation. They keep vehicles and machinery running so that work impacting people’s health and livelihoods can continue. As long as there are engines and engine-powered machinery, there will be a need for technicians and repairers to take care of this critical equipment.

Workers like welders and computer numerical control (CNC) machinists power construction and manufacturing. These industries help build hospitals and medical equipment that keep people safe.

We talked to 13 diverse employers from across the United States to learn how the technicians and skilled trades workers they employ remain valuable. Now. Tomorrow. And whatever comes the world’s way.

1. Technicians Handle Repairs & Maintenance


Vehicles and machinery aren’t perfect. There will be breakdowns. And, unfortunately, there will be accidents that damage them.

Lakeitria Luter, Senior Manager of Strategic Sourcing for Service King Collision Repair Centers, knows this very well. But fixing cars and trucks as a collision mechanic is about more than getting them good as new. She says it’s about serving the community.

“It’s really about being able to give back and support and really make sure everyone is safe,” says Lakeitria (1:10). “That’s our No. 1 priority at Service King—and I’m sure the collision industry as a whole—to get people back on the road safe and have their vehicles be better than they were when they came in.”

Daulten Stewart, Talent Management Specialist for 4 Wheel Parts, echoes the sentiment that technicians provide a vital service for people in all types of professions.


“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, our vehicles’ needs are still there,” says Daulten (1:11). “We’ve found that in times like this, whether it’s the most simple task of an oil change or an alignment, those things are still going to be needed.”

Daulten continues, “From a community standpoint, an automotive technician right now is providing a service. That should really make them feel great about the work they’re doing and the profession they’re in. They’re being counted upon, even in a time like this.”

2. Construction Keeps Moving


There are always new construction projects, which require skilled trades workers like welders. Bret Harris, chief operating officer for MMI Industrial and Steel, says it has been a blessing to be a part of an in-demand industry. As he has seen friends with a catering business and a high-end jewelry business struggle through the pandemic, Bret’s company has continued to get bid requests.

“As long as our country needs roads, bridges, schools, churches, hospitals and warehouses, construction is going to remain essential,” Bret says (0:35). “I have been so grateful throughout this process to come to work every day and get a paycheck every other Friday.”

3. Manufacturing Relies on Machinists


Manufacturing powers many industries in the United States. It’s responsible for building medical equipment, creating parts for aviation, building defense parts and much more. CNC machinists make up an integral part of the manufacturing process.

Todd English, vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships for Roush Yates Racing Engines, says, (1:18) “From a job outlook perspective or employer perspective, we’re looking for skilled trades that have a good fit for our company. You’ll also see continued capital investment into automation. We have to have skilled technicians that run and program this equipment.”

4. Food Is Always in Demand

Diesel technicians who work on farm equipment and agriculture machinery help ensure the nation’s food supply keeps growing.

“We all have to eat,” says Kim Walden, recruitment manager for Ag-Pro Companies, a John Deere dealership. “Our products will always be in demand and so will Ag-Pro’s need for qualified technicians.”


Bill Mappes, Operations Manager for the Dallas and Fort Worth locations of Thermo King, points out another way technicians protect food: through refrigeration.

“With transport refrigeration, a lot of food product is transported from the farm to the market,” says Bill. “It’s impacting people’s lives daily. We’re keeping these units up and running so we can transport this food to the grocery store, as well as any other items that need refrigeration, such as medicine.”

5. Vehicles Keep Critical Industries Running


One of the most important ways technicians contribute to communities is by protecting the vehicles of frontline workers.

“Doctors and nurses have to be able to get to work,” says Bob Breedlove, Fixed Operations Talent Acquisition Manager of Hendrick Automotive Group. “We have to make sure that the vehicles that are delivering critical supplies get there.”

Cody Hansen, fixed operations director at Harley-Davidson of Florida, says his business services the police agencies in the area, helping local protectors stay protected while on the road.


Lithia Motors, Inc., where Steve Hamre is the National Automotive Technician Recruiting Manager, also works on first responder vehicles.

 “Anybody who needs to get to and from medical help or go get their food and bring it back, etc., needs a vehicle that works,” says Steve. “The shops in each one of our dealerships are definitely essential to many people in the community.”

6. Trucks Transport Everyday Items

There’s a phrase in the trucking industry: “If you bought it, a truck brought it.” Chad Estle, lead recruiter for the truck service side of TravelCenters of America, says the work his company’s technicians do supports professional drivers who transport the items people use every day.

“Trucking is an important industry because 90% of anything you touch, use, see during the day at some point came by a truck,” says Chad. “The food didn’t get from the farm to your table magically. It got on a truck at some point, maybe more than one.”


Brian Brooks, the Peterbilt Technician Institute Program Manager for Peterbilt Motors Company, agrees that trucks are crucial for so many businesses.

“About 80% of the products you purchase off the shelf were at one time put on a truck,” Brian says. “The products that you purchase are restocked every night with products brought from a truck. It demonstrates the essential nature of our business, how it helps our communities.”

Craig Kendall, recruiting manager for The Pete Store chain of Peterbilt dealerships, also points out that trucks are responsible for trash and refuse being hauled away. That’s definitely important year-round.

7. Material Handling Drives Logistics


Technicians who work on machinery like forklifts are also a vital part of so many industries. Brad Jordan, the Recruiting Manager for the U.S. for Crown Equipment Corporation, says he considers material handling to be the backbone and lifeblood of logistics. Forklifts in warehouses, in the backs of semis and in stores help get products to the end user.

“Until we can figure out how to get a person to move a pallet, there’s always going to be a need for a forklift to be able to do the heavy lifting,” says Brad. “If we don’t have mechanics to do work and preventative maintenance on those forklifts, they don’t move. When the forklifts don’t move, the product sits. Then the community is impacted because there can be a shortage.”

Brad continues, “If they don’t have someone working on a forklift, someone in our community is going to have lack or less than or maybe a product that’s critical for their daily lives.”

Technicians Serve the Community

A common thread in all of the responses from these employers is that technicians help the community. Whether it’s:

  • Fixing cars so parents can take their kids to doctors
  • Maintaining first responder vehicles so police and emergency technicians can do their jobs
  • Making sure food, medicine and critical supplies get to their destination

    One thing is constant: Technicians and the skilled trades keep the world running.

If you’re interested in a career in the skilled trades, request information from Universal Technical Institute.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

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Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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