How short-handed are we?
The auto industry has been affected by car shortages and chip manufacturing, all the way down to a shortage of mechanics. According to the TechForce Foundation, between 2020-2024, the U.S. will be short approximately 642,000 auto, diesel, and collision technicians, just as other industries have experienced a high number of retirees, career changes, or labor shortages brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The auto industry has been hit especially hard by this.
Industry analysts say that a few other factors aside from the global pandemic affecting the hiring and maintaining of technicians include low pay, work environment, lack of skills and technical ability, and a generational shift away from trades. The shortage of technicians affects the businesses in need, including dealerships already short on cars and customers needing work done on their cars. We are seeing longer lead times that increase by at least 2-3 days.
What is causing this shortage of mechanics?
We can link the decline in trade education, like auto technicians, to a few contributing factors. First, we can look at the school systems and the decline in the ability to attend vocational schools. Twenty years ago, the school districts actively promoted a trade education, whereas today, they have placed a large emphasis on attending college. Most parents want their kids to go to college instead of taking an interest in a trade.
According to shamrock.com Most parents actively discourage their children from vocational or technical education programs, as only 27% consider it worthwhile. Their schools told around 36% of students pursuing vocational career paths that pursuing an academic route would make them more successful. 22% of the people in the vocational group were told they were ‘too clever” for vocational education.” Trade skills comprise several essential skills that will be in demand for years, making this a concerning statistic.
Secondly, much of the hands-on training is manufacturer specific or a direction into advanced automotive cars and parts. Although the transition to EVs will bring many opportunities for the younger generations and provide them with a skill set that can be used in other aspects of their life, like how to properly handle high voltage wires, etc., along with also helping with the shortage as EVs require less maintenance due to having fewer components to fix, the advancements may cause the older generation to retire. More shops close due to not having the proper education to keep up or the advanced technology necessary to keep up.
How we can regrow an industry
So how do we fix it? Marketsource gives a great example of initiatives they are taking and could be taken by other companies/schools/etc. To help move towards a more stable environment for that workforce. A few moves in the right direction could drastically change the outcome in 5-10 years. It isn’t going to fix itself overnight, but a gradual incline will make a drastic change to the future of this industry.