Gearing Up for a Shift in the Automotive Workforce

Gearing Up for a Shift in the Automotive Workforce

We live in a world inundated with technology, so it comes as no surprise that consumers seek similar digital access and advances integrated into their driving experience. These range from the obvious — navigation, entertainment, climate control, and hands-free access — to innovations in safety, performance, and diagnostics.

So much has changed within the automotive industry in such a short period of time. Repair bays — once filled with grease-covered tools and parts — now more closely resemble labs, complete with the advanced (and expensive) equipment needed to repair the increasingly complex array of components that power today’s vehicles.

These rapid advances force us to wonder: does the U.S. have enough qualified professionals ready to keep our automobiles running smoothly?

Labor Shortage

The simple answer is no: we don’t have anywhere near the numbers needed for a robust and specialized automotive workforce, either today or in the immediate future.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. will need 46,000 additional automotive service technicians by the year 2026 to keep up with industry needs. There are already as many as 75,000 automotive service technician job openings in any one year. Causes vary, from older workers aging out of the workforce to employees switching jobs to the creation of brand new positions.

Further, Donny Seyfer, Executive Officer of the National Automotive Training Task Force, notes that fewer high schools offer automotive shop programs, further diminishing the potential supply of technicians. And, even when such classes are available, he adds, there is often a disconnect between what they teach and what service departments need.

Attaining Relevant Skills

Assigning young students to tear down an engine or repair a transmission is a bad fit in an industry where the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) estimates that maintenance accounts for 70 percent of a technician’s work, Seyfer adds.

So, whether you are a new worker, or a seasoned worker making a career change, how can you quickly gain the real-world skills necessary to provide exceptional technical service? And, in an industry where the average automotive technician is 40 years old, with 19 years of experience, how can the existing workforce stay current as technology rapidly evolves?

The High Costs of Turnover

The National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2017 Dealership Workforce Study found that the annual turnover rate for the most skilled automotive technicians rose 2.1% in a single year. Some leave for different dealerships, others leave for different industries.

If jobs remain unfilled, losses accrue at an alarming rate: experts estimate that a typical automotive technician brings in an average of $1,000 per day. Consider what that means for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and more. Suddenly filling current vacancies — and retaining current workers — becomes exponentially more critical to your bottom line.

The Road Forward

The road forward for the automotive industry is filled with both intense challenges and remarkable opportunities. A lack of skilled candidates for an increasing number of highly specialized positions calls for an innovative approach to crafting a brand new pipeline for finding, training, and keeping talented automotive service technicians.

Which is why Franklin Apprenticeships is partnering with the State of Missouri to offer Missouri AutoMOtive!, an ingenious solution for accelerating the growth so essential to making the State’s automotive sector thrive.

Modern apprenticeships create opportunities for both employers and employees, offering a fully developed framework for success as candidates earn while learning the very skills and knowledge needed to be a top-notch technician. For Dislocated Workers, in particular, such an approach allows them to hit the ground running: instead of incurring debt for programs that might get them ahead, they begin as paid workers eager to learn and grow into competitive positions that help them — and your business — get ahead.

With AutoMOtive!, Dislocated Workers from industries that have experienced layoffs and downsizing have an opportunity for a new career in the automotive industry, which includes ASE certification and other technical certifications, as well as a mentor and a peer-supported community. Further, program recruitment, placement, training, coaching, and certification costs are subsidized for participating employers.

Let us help you put your search for qualified automotive service technicians in first gear, ensuring your ability to keep everything about today’s technologically advanced vehicles — from music to guidance to safety — running smoothly. Contact us to learn more about Missouri AutoMOtive! today.


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