Companies create programs to recruit diesel techs

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News,Business

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Automotive and heavy equipment dealerships in North Dakota are helping pay aspiring diesel mechanics' college tuitions in exchange for a three-year commitment to work for the company after graduating.

Diesel mechanics are in short supply nationwide as baby boomers retire and fewer members of the new generation go into the field. There are hundreds of openings across North Dakota, according to the North Dakota Implement Dealers Association and Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota.

"It's crazy right now, the demand for diesel," said Ann Pollert, technician and career developer for General Equipment & Supplies Inc., which has four offices around the state.

Pollert was hired by General Equipment in September to meet with high school students. The company will pay up to 90 percent of students' college loans in return for a three-year work commitment. While in school, students in the company's Diesel Tech Program work at one of four locations during the summer and on breaks.

Nine students are enrolled for fall 2014 and the company hopes to eventually have 18 in the program at a time, Pollert told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/NTgs2M ). Salaries for program graduates are about $50,000.

Other companies are implementing similar programs.

Fargo-based RDO Equipment has about 200 open positions companywide — a third of them diesel technicians. The company is offering paid internship and apprenticeship programs for service workers, as well as programs for students interested in parts and sales. Both programs come with educational reimbursements of up to $12,000.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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