To help train the next generation of heavy equipment operators, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has donated an articulated haul truck to Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI) in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.
The Volvo A35D hauler, which had been used on Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” television series, is now a training tool for high school students enrolled in the institute’s Heavy Equipment Operations and Preventive Maintenance program, a Volvo press release says.
“We will use the Volvo hauler across the full curriculum. In addition to basic truck operation, it will be a support piece for students who are learning loading techniques with wheel loaders and excavators,” says Jim Wabals, instructor at LCTI.
“The hauler will also give students experience on preventive maintenance and help them understand the value it adds to reducing operating costs and increasing productivity over the machine’s lifetime.”
The Heavy Equipment Operations and Preventive Maintenance program teaches machine operation skills for a range of equipment, basic machine maintenance, surveying, grading, and erosion and sediment control techniques. Since it began in 2005, the program has maintained 90-percent placement rate of graduates directly hired into construction equipment-related positions, the press release says.
The 2006 Volvo articulated haul truck has over 15,000 hours and is valued at US $80,000. It was used by “Gold Rush” star Tony Beets at his Yukon mine. He added his signature to the front fender as a personal touch-point for the students.
Fellow “Gold Rush” miner Juan Ibarra assisted with the truck handover at the school. Ibarra also spent classroom time with the students, sharing his career experiences and exploring where the construction equipment field can take them.
Heavy equipment operators are among the most in-demand employees, with a projected growth rate of 12 percent from 2016 to 2026 — faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Closing this operator gap is vitally important to Volvo, as an advocate for the construction industry and as an equipment manufacturer, the company says.
“Opportunities like this exemplify how business can partner with education,” says Stephen Roy, president of Volvo CE Americas.
“The availability of the Volvo hauler intersected with LCTI’s need to broaden its training. Giving students practical experience in the seat and under the hood will give them a strong advantage when they enter the workforce, where Volvo haulers are a mainstay on many job sites.”
Volvo CE has a history of investing in programs that encourage youth to pursue careers related to equipment manufacturing and engineering. This includes being an official partner with SkillsUSA and Skills Compétences Canada, which are national organizations that develop technical and leadership abilities.
Volvo CE also sponsors the SkillsUSA Pennsylvania Heavy Equipment Operation competition each spring, which draws top student operators from across the state, including from LCTI’s program.
LCTI is the largest career tech school in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest of its type in the United States, according to the Volvo press release. It offers more than 45 skills-based programs of study, as well as academic instruction for 2,700 students each year.