As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and historically high rates of unemployment, skilled technicians are needed, and doing jobs essential to Americans’ well-being and economic recovery.
This indispensable workforce includes graduates of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) who service the vehicles, truck fleets and machinery that fuel crucial industries, carry essential goods and supplies and support vital infrastructure.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response,” lists the transportation industry and maintenance repair technicians as essential, and these skilled employees participate in every stage of the nation’s supply chain.
Brandon Rubio is at the front of the supply funnel. The diesel engine specialist and UTI-Houston graduate maintains and repairs high-tech farm equipment, and helps the hard-hit agricultural industry continue to operate. Recently, he participated in an equipment repair project that kept a large citrus farm in business and, as the food industry deals with ongoing supply chain challenges and prepares for a ramp up in production, his work has become increasingly important.
“I feel like a doctor for vehicles who is critical to keeping our country operating during this time,” Rubio said. “I’m extremely proud to be an essential worker and feel privileged to still have a job.”
During the pandemic, many delivery and truck drivers have also emerged as essential workers, with numerous healthcare providers referring to them as fellow first responders. In response, UTI-Exton graduate Dylan Bansi, a Peterbilt technician who services diesel vehicles and engines, is now prioritizing over-the-road trucks that transport hospital equipment, medication, food and key consumer goods.
“It feels good knowing you’re following your passion while helping the world right now,” Bansi says. “We’re not only standing behind the Peterbilt brand, but we’re helping out the ones in need the most.”
Just as crucial to the supply chain are the industrial loaders and forklifts that move goods and supplies on and off trucks, trains, ships and loading docks and are used in warehouses and retail environments. Dustin Bogan, a field service manager at Crown Equipment Corporation, leads a team of field technicians who service and repair this equipment.
“It’s a job I’m fortunate to have because forklifts are in demand to move virtually everything, including essential products like food and medical supplies,” said Bogan. “The skills taught at NASCAR Technical Institute help tremendously as a forklift technician, and that’s why a large percentage of our local workforce is comprised of their graduates.”
While the jobs UTI graduates pursue vary, many UTI-trained technicians work in jobs that keep essential infrastructure moving, and others – like Ben Phelps – are literally doing life-saving work.
Phelps is a former firefighter and an Army veteran who worked on Black Hawk helicopters. After graduating from UTI-Orlando, he maintains and repairs fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles. At the peak of pandemic and in areas facing surges of COVID-19 patients, emergency service fleets operate at capacity, and the work Phelps does keeps them in service. He says he still considers himself a first responder and worries there aren’t enough emergency service technicians to meet the growing need.
Rubio, Bansi, Bogan and Phelps, along with thousands of other UTI graduates, work in jobs that require sophisticated technical skills and will be in demand for years to come. They are also making a tremendous difference in the communities they serve.
“Especially now, we are extremely proud that so many of our graduates are delivering services essential to the economy, including industries like healthcare agriculture, energy and distribution,” said Jerome Grant, UTI’s CEO. “They are truly keeping our country running.”