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Left to right: Associated Equipment Distributors executive vice president and chief operating officer Bob Henderson and Caterpillar vice president of distribution Jay Walton. Image: Caterpillar

Caterpillar has announced a substantial donation to the Associated Equipment Distributors Foundation (AEDF), a non-profit foundation for the heavy equipment industry.

The original equipment manufacturer’s $500,000 donation will support the AEDF’s Vision 2025 initiative, a project aimed at addressing the technician shortage within the equipment distribution industry.

The project is also focused on improving programs offered to students across US high schools and technical schools that are considered underserved within the technical skills space. It will do this by bringing skills-based programs back to high schools to help enable career success for all learning and career pathways.

“Caterpillar understands the importance of closing the skills gap in today’s labor market and is focused on helping build solutions,” Caterpillar corporate social responsibility leader Asha Varghese said.

“We believe in supporting AEDF in its Vision 2025 campaign to make a difference in addressing the critical skills gap and supporting solutions for greater workforce readiness.”

By 2027, the project aims to recognise at least 200 high school programs and accredit at least 120 college programs to help foster meaningful job placements for students.

If these goals are met, the Vision 2025 initiative is expected to help generate an additional 10,000 skilled technicians entering the workforce, 5000 AEDF certified technicians and 500 AEDF certified managers.

“The AED Foundation is grateful for Caterpillar’s leadership and investment in our Vision 2025 campaign,” AEDF president Emeritus Bob Henderson said.

“Caterpillar’s support, in conjunction with nearly 75 other investors, brings our Vision 2025 campaign to over $7 million. These investments provide the Foundation the sustainability needed to continue to be the heavy equipment industry’s leader in workforce development.”

Komatsu made a $250,000 donation to the Vision 2025 initiative last year.