- Associated Press - Friday, June 15, 2018

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Northern Indiana will get a new institute focused on developing technical skills for use in the recreational vehicle industry.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association’s board of directors has approved a plan and a $10 million initial investment to create the RV Technical Institute in Elkhart. The institute will help train new technicians how to maintain and repair RVs and teach current technicians new skills.

“In building the plan, we were determined to end nearly three decades of partially funded half measures to solve one of the industry’s biggest service challenges,” said RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer in a statement.

Officials hope the institute will help fill technician shortages and reduce the amount of time customers have to wait for repairs. Officials attribute the shortage to the increasing number of RVs on the road, not to existing technicians retiring or leaving the field. The industry is selling more than 500,000 units annually, officials said.

“What we’ve seen in the last 5-6 years is RV shipments have grown year over year by double-digit percentages,” said Matt Rose, RV director for the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council. “With more people on the road enjoying RVs, (that) in turn means more people need work done on their RVs. It all comes full circle.”

The association also plans to create a network of regional partners to facilitate training in other parts of the U.S.

The association plans to create a task force to choose a location for the institute and select an executive director. The institute is expected to be operational in the next three years.

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