The State of the Diesel Industry

In June of 2018, in Ohio, there were 594 posted diesel mechanic openings on Indeed. Today, there are 2,543.

These sobering numbers mirror those across the U.S.

I’m going to take a different angle than the usual.

How do we get more people into the profession?

We “de-risk” education. You may have not yet heard this term. You soon will.

The broken educational model in the U.S. puts 100% of the risk of the cost of education on the student, whether the education works or not.

This wasn’t a big deal when education was actually affordable. Tuition at Ohio State in the late 1990s was $2,700/year.

Back to de-risking.

At ADTC in partnership with Social Finance, we’ve created a much better and sustainable model for education and industry.

The key: Everyone incurs some risk.

1. Investors, some of the most well-known philanthropists and non-profits in the world, risk capital by investing in people who attend programs with proven outcomes and job placement. The investors receive below-market rates of return.

2. ADTC foregoes a significant % of its per-student tuition as a risk share. If our grads don’t get hired, and don’t handle payment obligations, we go away. How many colleges would take this bet?

3. Our industry partners agree to hire new, mostly untrained talent, send them to ADTC, and pay them a solid wage. They also agree to make the very modest monthly re-payment, (48 months,) for as long as the individual works for them. If the person quits, the payment obligation for the company immediately ends and reverts to the student. This is a GREAT retention strategy.

4. Students, the vast majority from challenged economic backgrounds, whose average age is 26 years old, risk spending five weeks out of town, away from family. They also risk that if their initial job, or career does as a mechanic does not work out, that they will still be responsible for their repayment obligations.

If it’s done right, they receive an education at no cost, employment at outstanding companies, and unlimited career pathways.

This model isn’t perfect. Because we deal with people. But I’ll guarantee you that it is vastly superior to the current system. It is the future of trades and technical education.

Want to know why? Because while enrollments at traditional for-profit trade schools and community colleges continue to nosedive, ADTC’s classes are routinely sold out. We’re in the process of increasing our capacity five-fold.

The market has pushed ADTC from a “school,” to a national outsource for recruiting and training of entry-level diesel mechanics.

In 2017, we predicted that the numbers would be exactly as dire as they are today. It bothers me to say that, but we did. And it’s going to get worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fun part? We help people. We solve problems. And we have a great time doing it. Are we perfect? Heck no. But that would be boring.