Auto Industry Professionals Weigh Solutions to Persisting Technician Shortage

 

The demand for workers in the trades continues to outpace the supply at alarming rates. When it comes to the automotive industry, the need for technicians is estimated to be five openings for every active technician. This is a significant increase in the technician shortage from 2021 when the ratio was 2:1 with unfilled jobs at 258K.

According to a study by WrenchWay, the automotive industry is estimated to need nearly 650K technicians across the automotive, diesel, and collision sectors. The domino effects of this labor gap are reaching critical levels.

Since 2020, car prices have been on the rise, and vehicle shortages continue to leave consumers scrambling to find the makes and models they want. Increased car costs have ultimately led to a decrease in sales. Cox Automotive reported that sales were predicted to be down by 17.3 percent in 2022. Fewer car sales will have a direct impact on maintaining vehicles; with a technician shortage, more used vehicles in circulation creates a

“You’re going to see the same thing in the inflation of the cost of servicing those vehicles as well if we don’t solve this technician shortage. It’s a much broader problem than just a problem for auto dealers or manufacturers, it can really affect the country as a whole,” said Scott Kunes, COO at Kunes Automotive and RV Group.

We have found that people are holding on to their vehicles longer today than ever before,” said Shawn Nunley, Vice President of Training at WyoTech. “The demand for technicians out there is going up because these vehicles are going to need more maintenance than maybe the average newer vehicle that you’re buying off the lot.”

Unless this shortage is addressed, consumers are going to be in shock as the cost of maintaining vehicles will rise in concert with the increase in demand, fueled by a lack of supply. To change the trajectory, it’s important to understand what is causing the shortage in order to successfully address the issue.

 

Understanding & Tackling the Auto Technician Shortage

 

Jim Mathis, President at WyoTech, noted that many peoples simply do not understand the opportunities presented by the trades primarily because schools have moved away from promoting them as a viable career path. For auto technicians, WyoTech holds a career fair four times a year which brings 65-75 potential employers to campus.

Mathis continued to give a very specific example regarding one standing offer by UPS which is somewhere between $35 to $39/hour starting wage depending on location. That is just one example and there are many more. The reality – someone who completes an auto technician training course ranging from 9 months to two years can make $72,800 to $81,120 as an entry-level technician in their first year.

A high school graduate could be making a solid middle-class salary in an industry that provides stability and growth opportunities. With such great potential, why are more students not pursuing the trades? The reality is that the U.S. educational system is primarily focused on encouraging children to pursue college degrees. The trades are considered a last resort and often thought of for students who did not do well in school – a prevailing belief that is simply not true.

To change the future of trade education in the U.S. and specifically, to address the auto technician shortage, students will need to be educated on the opportunities including potential salaries, educational requirements, and growth potential. Not to mention the opportunity to be earning quality salaries well before their college-bound counterparts and not entering the marketplace with staggering debt.

“It’s going to take a concerted effort from not only the manufacturers, dealers, independent auto shops and schools and the education system to make sure that we don’t encounter this shortage because the shortage doesn’t just affect us in dealerships and the shops, it affects the consumer as a whole,” Kunes said.

“Our recommendation to the auto shops is to get involved with the local high schools as well as the school boards to present the opportunities to these young students,” Mathis said.

Knowledge is power. Providing information to students empowers them to make educated decisions about how and when they enter the workforce giving the automotive industry the opportunity to fill roles with emerging talent.

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