May 6, 2020
At a Glance
JFF partnered with John Deere to build and deliver a national apprenticeship program for agriculture and equipment technicians and heavy construction equipment mechanics.
Companies across the agriculture industry are struggling with too many unfilled agricultural technician jobs and not enough qualified people to fill them, especially in rural areas. This problem is only going to get worse: As more of the industry’s trained workers retire in the next few years, there will be 3,000 agricultural equipment technician vacancies.
These vacancies lead to real lost revenue. Grant Suhre, director of Customer and Product Support for John Deere Ag & Turf, estimates that the company loses a significant portion of the potential revenue it could be receiving from replacement parts sales. With current technicians overstretched, the wait time to receive service directly from John Deere dealers leads customers to search for quicker options.
In addition, the company found that skilled trades training was a hurdle for some prime job candidates. The John Deere TECH program was established in 1989 as a comprehensive associate’s degree program that combined tuition assistance, internships, and job placement upon graduation.
To address these challenges, John Deere partnered with JFF in 2017 to build and deliver a national apprenticeship program for agriculture and equipment technicians and heavy construction equipment mechanics. The program would expand the pool of qualified workers and offer participants a nationally recognized credential.
“This [program] can improve a dealer’s productivity and profit potential as employee turnover costs are reduced and employees are retained longer,” said Ryan Blades, director, C&F Customer and Product Support, Worldwide Construction and Forestry Division. “In addition, John Deere customers benefit from access to more highly skilled dealer personnel who are servicing or supporting their equipment.”
John Deere is one of America’s most successful, resilient, and iconic American brands.
Established in the late 1830s as a midwestern plow manufacturer, John Deere is now a Fortune 100 powerhouse that supplies a wide array of heavy-duty equipment for agriculture, lawn care, construction, and forestry.
Critical to John Deere’s success is providing equipment maintenance and service to customers through John Deere’s dealer network. John Deere has historically worked to support its dealers through a variety of programs, several of which are designed to help dealers attract, hire, develop, and retain promising job candidates, especially for technical service and maintenance positions.
This [program] can improve a dealer’s productivity and profit potential as employee turnover costs are reduced and employees are retained longer. In addition, John Deere customers benefit from access to more highly skilled dealer personnel who are servicing or supporting their equipment.Ryan Blades, director, C&F Customer and Product Support, Worldwide Construction and Forestry Division
Partnering with JFF
JFF led the process of developing the program and securing registration from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Specifically, JFF worked with John Deere to:
- Define and document the formal curriculum, work-based learning experiences, and mentoring components of the apprenticeship;
- Ensure the program combined industry best practices with pragmatic, cost-efficient, high-impact solutions;
- Assemble the required documentation that outlines the structure and curricula of the apprenticeship program; and
- Complete the formal registration process with the DOL.
John Deere’s Registered Apprenticeship program formally rolled out in July of 2019 and is offered to the company’s Agriculture & Turf and Construction & Forestry dealers across the country. As of September 2019, interest in the program has been high and two dealerships already have received DOL approval to launch their apprenticeship programs. “The new Registered Apprenticeship Program complements our existing John Deere TECH program,” said Suhre. “In addition to the on-the-job training experience, an apprentice will receive technical instruction and be assigned a personal mentor as a part of the highly organized training structure. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, he or she will receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate.”