Dirty Jobs: Training the Next Generation of Maintenance Techs

The rental housing industry is battling other sectors for skilled maintenance technicians looking for growth and career development.

By Doug Pike |

| Updated

3 minute read

Like many industries, rental housing is struggling to find, train and retain maintenance team members. Proactive organizations are tapping into a diminishing supply of skilled workers through training, apprenticeships, outreach programs and outside-of-the box strategies.  

During the 2023 Apartmentalize education session, “Dirty Jobs: Training the Next Generation of Maintenance Techs,” industry leaders Chris Caramanica, Lori Agudo, Doug Geiken and Brianna Mack discussed their organizations’ recruitment, training and retention efforts. 

Virtual Training Platform

“Maintenance teams have always felt like the support they received is less than office teams. There’s no training, no clear expectations,” said Agudo, Director of Training and Talent Development at Royal American Management, who started a virtual training program last year for maintenance associates. “We decided to implement an immediately actionable item — a maintenance training checklist for new hires. It creates a firm foundation of policies, service contracts, site maps and essential contacts.” 

The virtual program exposes participants to new concepts like preferred vendors, reputation management and soft skills: conflict resolution and customer service. The training emphasizes communication, with morning check-ins and end-of-day recaps, to help bridge the gap between the maintenance shop and leasing office. Royal American also established a task force to review training challenges and successes, with revolving members for a continually fresh perspective. 

Corporate Training Center

Lloyd Companies took a hands-on approach to maintenance training and recruitment, developing its own Lloyd Training Center to train new maintenance technicians. The center features working appliances and other home and property components that maintenance associates routinely service.

“If you invest in your team and think outside of the box, you’re going to reap a lot more benefits than you ever thought you could,” said Geiken, Regional Maintenance Manager for Lloyd Companies.

Lloyd Companies also restructured its maintenance teams to save time and reduce staffing needs. Teams are created geographically and consist of a regional manager, manager, preventive maintenance manager, team lead, technician and technician in training. Geiken said the pod structure helps to provide the necessary support and shadowing opportunities for new maintenance associates. 

Association-Sponsored Workforce Training

The Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA), along with affiliate partners, developed a four-week, hands-on maintenance training program designed to attract new talent for its owner/operator members. Mack, AMA Professional Development Director, said the training provides life-changing skills and opens new doors in terms of employment and lifestyle. 

“We’re seeing an increase in people who might need a career pivot or restart, and through this program some participants have landed jobs with onsite housing,” Mack said. “The training program promotes self-esteem growth and helps participants to connect the dots between education and opportunity.” 

Participants graduate with not only relevant industry experience and training, but 73% are also hired after graduation and 43% earn their Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT). 

With the cross-industry competition for skilled maintenance technicians, offering competitive pay and benefits isn’t enough. Training programs that position participants for employment and career growth can help tip the scales. 

“We have a maintenance professional shortage, and we need to do something about it,” said Caramanica, Director of Facilities for WinnCompanies. “Maintenance professionals want training and they’re willing to learn.” 

 

Doug Pike is a Content Specialist for LinnellTaylor Marketing.