Grey metal plate with red rivets with Heavy Duty Mechanics Wanted written on the front in red.

HELP WANTED: Technically-skilled heavy equipment workers. Can start immediately.

In essence, the above sums up a recent study of the United States heavy equipment industry. Initiated by the Associated Equipment Distributors, the report showed that the industry loses over $2 billion each year because of how difficult it is to find and retain technically-skilled workers.

The report emphasizes the struggle the equipment distribution industry has because of a wide gap between skills needed to fill technical roles and the skills possessed by prospective new-hires.

The AED Foundation (AEDF) commissioned the study done by researchers from the College of William and Mary. The research team analyzed the industry’s shortage of skilled trades workers based on a summer 2015 survey.

AED President/CEO Brian McGuire said the current worker shortage constitutes “a national crisis,” and that the report accurately reflects the current condition of the industry’s workforce.

The research showed that job openings by equipment distributors is three times that of the national average and that vacancies remain open for extended periods of time. The toughest challenge dealers face is finding workers proficient in skilled trades.

Moreover, the job market is expected to continue to grow because of the nation’s newly-passed five-year highway authorization law. But instead, the report suggests, jobs will remain unfilled because the right candidates won’t be available.

In their report, researchers said that the “skills gap” will affect expansion potential, while causing lost revenue and wages, among other issues.

The report also laid forth a series of recommendations, including strong community-based relationships for recruiting and developing talent, and improvements to federal workforce policy.

McGuire said he hoped the report and its affect on the heavy equipment distribution industry will motivate the nation’s lawmakers to find solutions to the skills gap in order to help boost future economic health.

The AED was founded in 1991 and focuses on professional skilled trades education and workforce development specific to the industry.