The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2018 - 53





Launching The Certified
Forklift Technician Program


HEDA and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) partnered to launch the
Certified Forklift Technician (CFT) designation in 2017 as an effort to combat the "skills
gap" shortage in the material handling industry. The CFT was created to raise performance of forklift technicians, assist individuals in finding higher paying jobs and help

employers ensure their workforce is skilled and robust.
At the 2018 MHEDA Convention,
MSSC CEO Leo Reddy, Waukesha
Technical College's Dean of Industrial
Automation, Mike Shiels, and MHEDA
Board Member and President of
Fairchild Equipment Van Clarkson,
gave a presentation announcing the
CFT Program and updating MHEDA
Members on what steps to take to get
involved. Clarkson and Shiels have
worked together to implement the
CFT Program in Waukesha Technical
College and ensure students understand the career opportunities as a
Forklift Technician in the material
handling industry. The MHEDA Journal
had the opportunity to speak with Van
Clarkson about the program and get his
perspective on where the program is
heading and what it will mean for the
material handling industry.
TMJ: What would you say was the
general message for attendees from
your Convention presentation?

Van Clarkson: The overall message
was that we have to work together as
dealers. We can't think of ourselves
as competitors in the market. This is
an industry problem. I think it's righting itself, and the CFT is a really good
start, but when I go to a Community
College or Technical school and say
that I have 30 job openings, it's not
as compelling as when we say there
are 10,000 nationwide. There may be,
in the state of Wisconsin, 350 openings for these positions, and they're
high-paying positions. They're a great
job. Once people get into the role, the
sky is the limit. There are people who
started off as technicians that now
own their own businesses. Or, who
became a technician, continued their
certifications, and are now making
upwards of $35 per hour -acting as
their own boss! They absolutely love
life and that's why oftentimes technicians stay in this role until they retire.

The issue is that kids these days are
not growing up playing with forklifts
in their sandbox. They're not thinking
about going out and working on forklifts. They're thinking of automotive
technicians or maybe over the road
truck technicians. Putting together the
CFT is a start to changing that thought
process, "widening the pool of applicants," and explaining why a forklift
technician is a really attractive option.
Think about construction equipment.
I'm from Wisconsin. Do you want to
work on construction equipment in
January outside? No. Chances are, if
you're going to be a forklift technician,
you're going to be working inside in a
climate controlled facility. All of your
tools are going to be in your van. It's a
pretty attractive job and we've called
on high schools in our area, even
middle schools, to try to raise awareness of this. And CFT is going to take
it to the next step, just like ASE has for
The MHEDA Journal | Third Quar ter 2 018



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