USA: The Rise of Heavy-Duty Electric Trucks Is Driving a Training Rush

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Workers are trained to service heavy-duty electric trucks through an apprenticeship program at Velocity Vehicle Group in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Related educational opportunities are combined with the training at Rio Hondo College.

The Velocity Vehicle service facility is visited by students from Rio Hondo College in southern California. For jobs servicing heavy-duty energy vehicles, Velocity Vehicle offers an apprenticeship program.

Recently, Jason Shearer noticed an unusual sight outside the window of the Velocity Vehicle service center in Southern California. It was n’t trucks from Walmart, Sysco, and other businesses that were waiting for service; rather, it was the kind of trucks that stood out.

The demand for skilled technicians is increasing in lockstep as heavy-duty battery-electric trucks gain popularity, placing additional pressure on training programs and businesses.

The Rise of Heavy-Duty Electric Trucks Is Driving a Training Rush | JETSI

Empowering the Future: Apprenticeship Program at Rio Hondo College Prepares Technicians for Battery-Electric Trucks

According to Shearer, vice president for service at the Velocity Vehicle Group,” the demand on the battery-electric side has merely been insane, the amount of growth that we’ve seen,” in the past six months.

“We have been very much on the forefront of training and getting people ready, as well as getting them experienced in this stuff! Shearer said. “Even as much as we prepare, we’re seeing a huge amount of intake of these electric units.”

Velocity has created an apprenticeship program to train workers for servicing energy heavy-duty vehicles in collaboration with Rio Hondo College, a local community college. The two-year program trains workers for what might be the most recent influx of new positions brought on by the growing efficient transportation movement.

All of this work is being done as the state quickly transitions several heavy-duty vehicle uses at ports and various facilities to zero emission.

Scaling Towards Zero-Emission: California’s Initiative Empowers Workforce for Battery-Electric Heavy-Duty Trucks

A fleet of 50 battery-electric Freightliner eCascadia trucks has been deployed by trucking company Schneider as part of the California Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI), a state initiative to encourage the rollout of electric trucks. It is the country’s largest fleet of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks.

At Schneider’s South El Monte facility, 16’350 kilowatt chargers were developed by the California Energy Commission (CEC), a JETSI partner, enabling up to 32 battery-electric trucks to charge simultaneously. Additionally, renewable generation and energy storage will be part of the project. The Los Angeles and Inland Empire region can be traversed by trucks on local routine routes of up to 200 miles per truck thanks to the infrastructure.

According to Marc Perry, a project manager for the CEC’s clean transportation program, the energy commission allocates about $5 million annually for workforce training and development.

According to Perry, who wrote in an email, the CEC has so far invested more than $44 million in the development of workforce skills and capacity through a variety of institutions and partnerships for over 32,000 trainees, faculty, and trainers.

Equipping the Next Generation: Rio Hondo’s EV Apprenticeship Program Breaks Gender Barriers in Heavy-Duty Vehicle Maintenance

According to John Frala, coordinator of the community college’s alternative fuels, hydrogen, and electric transportation program, Rio Hondo has been using EV servicing since the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project began in 2019. About 15% of the program’s students are now female and want to enter a field that has typically been dominated by men. Between 3 and 7 percent of women work in the field on a countrywide average.

But how does maintaining an energy big rig differ from maintaining a Tesla? The major difference, according to Frala, comes over to scale.

It resembles an electrical vehicle. It’s simply larger in size” Frala remarked. “The parts are nearly identical, but they are larger in size.”

Every new apprentice student at Velocity receives a fresh toolbox on day one.

Shearer recalled the justification the business had for establishing one of the benefits of becoming an apprentice, saying, “If we want to be the best in the industry about acquiring the best talent, let’s buy them a toolbox.”

“We give them the keys to a toolbox when they join our group and sign up for the apprenticeship program. The toolbox is also ours to keep.” Shearer added that he recently “approved the purchase of 60 toolboxes for the upcoming year to be distributed to the novel class of apprentices, but when they graduate from our program, it will be ours. Finally, we’ve locked them in at that point, and they’re going to be a long-term employee with us.”

Some of these apprentices are entering the Velocity program after completing EV coursework at Rio Hondo for a few years. The business is also getting in touch with great school counselors to let them know about a training program that could quickly lead to securing employment in the six-figure sector.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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