Volvo CE Celebrates Budding Operators at SkillsUSA Equipment Competition

Volvo CE participated in the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Heavy Equipment Competition to help encourage young people to pursue skilled professions in the manufacturing industry.

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Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) recently participated in the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Heavy Equipment Competition as a sponsor to encourage young Americans to pursue skilled professions in the manufacturing industry. On April 20, Volvo CE’s dealer Highway Equipment and Supply, and customer Allan Myers, together with other local equipment manufacturers and dealers, partnered with SkillsUSA and tested top technical students across Pennsylvania on their operations skills in nine different categories.

“As a leader in the construction equipment industry, it is very important for Volvo CE to support future generations of skilled workers. Competitions like this not only help students get excited about a future in our industry, but also help bridge the current skills gap,” says Chuck Wood, Vice President, Human Resource Management and Administration, Volvo CE. “In the U.S., an estimated 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled in 2011 and the number could grow to over two million in 10 years, according to a report from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte—that’s a large gap and as a company, we are working hard to do our part to shrink that gap.”

SkillsUSA, a national career and technical training organization, hosted the competition as part of the 2017 SkillsUSA Pennsylvania State Championships. Nine high school students participated in the heavy equipment competition. Each participant was required to complete tasks ranging from identifying components and controls, inspecting machines, to writing service summary and operating virtual bulldozers and excavators. MacKenzie Stine from Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology scored gold. Ethan Snyder and Sean McCabe from Lancaster County Career and Technology Center took second and third place, respectively.

“I was raised on a farm and have always worked around equipment since childhood,” Stine says. “I think my strongest contest area was digging the trench with a backhoe and I plan to get a job as an excavator operator after graduation.”

Trusted local partners

Representatives from Volvo CE, Highway Equipment and Supply, and Allan Myers served as judges and donated equipment for the competition.

“There is a high demand for talented equipment operators in the mid-Atlantic Region, and the demand will continue to grow at an alarming pace over the next 10 years,” says Nathan Brenneman, Senior Human Resource Manager at Allan Myers. “To help our employees better understand the skillsets needed as an equipment operator, our company offers an in-house operator training program and we serve on several occupational advisory committees at local career schools.”

Jim Wabals, instructor at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute and co-chair of the competition, says the partnership with local manufactures and companies are crucial for skills education.

“Many students have expressed their interest in the heavy equipment industry but because of the high cost for equipment and training expenses, currently only three high schools in Pennsylvania are able to offer heavy equipment operating curriculums,” Wabals says. “To provide more educational resources in the field, we need support from an engaged advisory committee that includes local industry employers, equipment dealers and manufacturers.”

During the competition, Allan Myers also displayed a gold-painted A40G articulated hauler, which was custom-painted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Volvo CE introducing the articulated hauler. Throughout 2016, the golden hauler travelled across North America to dealer-sponsored events that connected local technical students with professionals in the field. In February, Allan Myers purchased the golden hauler at an auction, where proceeds went to benefit several skills organizations including SkillsUSA and Skills Compétences Canada. 

“We are proud to support the next generation of skilled craft professionals, because they will be a vital part of supporting the growth of Allan Myers and the construction industry,” Brenneman says.