In 2016, Volvo Construction Equipment commemorated the 50th anniversary of its invention of the articulated hauler with a unique, golden-painted A40G. There were many numbers behind the creation of the machine — the custom paint job was completed by 12 associates with a combined 240 years of experience in a total of 650 hours. The number that inspired the creation of the hauler, however, was 600,000 — that is the number of skilled jobs currently going unfilled, according to a survey of Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) members, noted in The Equipment Industry Technician Shortage: Causes, Impacts, and Policy Recommendations. It’s a crippling number that’s causing an estimated 9 percent revenue loss — or 2.4 billion — every year across AED member organizations.
Delivering Payload to Students
With that knowledge in hand, Volvo decided to use the hauler’s 50th hauler anniversary as an opportunity to grow awareness of the severe skills gap, working to make a positive impact.
“The skills gap is an issue that’s affecting every aspect of our industry,” said Dave Foster, vice president, marketing and communications, Volvo Construction Equipment. “We had an opportunity to help bring that to light, and expand students’ understanding of the wide variety of career opportunities available in the construction industry — opportunities from technology and engineering to welding and fabrication. It wasn’t just about a donation — it was about education.”
In 2016, the hauler set upon a North American tour, with the intent of connecting technical students in SkillsUSA and Skills/Compétences Canada with experienced professionals in the construction industry, stopping at dealerships and events throughout the U.S. and Canada. It was this connection between students and professionals that executives at the organization say was so appreciated.
“By 2020, we expect there to be a 10 million-person shortage in our skilled workforce,” said Peyton Holland, executive director for SkillsUSA North Carolina. “That’s what makes this partnership with Volvo Construction Equipment so tremendous — students get to meet real people, learn about real careers, and hear real stories about how people developed their own career paths.”
John Oates, president of Skills/Compétences Canada attributes the partnership’s success to strong, shared dedication. “Volvo CE matches its commitment to quality and innovation in their products with strong support to develop skilled trade and build awareness of the growing skills gap in the construction industry. We share in such commitment and are dedicated to offering innovative hands-on experiences for tens of thousands of youth every year.”
Countless connections were made throughout the year. The hauler tour made nearly 50 stops, traveled more than 15,000 miles upon the bed of a fellow golden-painted Volvo truck, and was seen by more than 145,000 people at the stops.
Valerie York, a construction and masonry student and a student leader at SkillsUSA, was one of those people.
“Because of Volvo’s continuous support, students like me can learn, compete and grow at SkillsUSA,” York said. “With exposure to industry-leading companies like Volvo, we’ve gained knowledge of what employers are looking for and how we can better prepare ourselves for the workforce.”
Another key advantage of this ongoing partnership is the awareness the program continues to bring to teachers about construction industry opportunities — perhaps the strongest conduit to helping students understand the breadth of opportunity available to them in the industry.
“I didn’t realize how technically advanced off-road equipment is,” said Ron Morris, automotive teacher at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina while visiting a Volvo dealership with his students. “All of the computerized engine control is very much like what we teach in the automotive program. It was very beneficial for me and the students to see how what we’re studying translates into heavy equipment.”
The Proud Owner
The golden Volvo A40G articulated hauler — currently on display in the Volvo CONEXPO-CON/AGG® booth, North Hall #10036 — was auctioned off to Allan Myers. Established in 1939 as a small hauling company, it is now a vertically integrated heavy civil construction company and materials supplier with over 2,000 skilled professionals, and is annually ranked in the top 150 firms by Engineering News-Record.
“Volvo articulated haulers have been a mainstay in the Allan Myers fleet for more than 20 years,” Ross Myers, chairman and CEO of Allan Myers said. “We are pleased to have placed the winning bid at the auction for the Volvo Golden Hauler, and are proud to support programs that educate young people and encourage them to pursue careers in the construction trades. Allan Myers feels the effects of the skills gap every day, and we commend Volvo Construction Equipment for conceiving this highly visible and creative way to raise awareness of the millions of craft positions that go unfilled each year.”
Proceeds from Allan Myers’ purchase of the golden A40G articulated hauler will benefit SkillsUSA and Skills/Compétences Canada, allowing Volvo to help the organizations reach even more students to educate them on the opportunities skilled positions offer in the construction industry.
“SkillsUSA is extremely proud of our partnership with Volvo,” said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. “We share the same values in energy, passion and respect for the individual, and our development over the past five decades mirrors each other in inspiring excellence in the skilled workforce. Volvo is helping us lift up more young people to follow a pathway to career and life success, and we hope this partnership will make a positive difference in our schools and communities, and in the lives of our students.”