At the expense of coming across as redundant, the most important issue facing the auto care industry today is the technician shortage. And it is a problem that will continue to grow without a major set of efforts on the part of the auto care industry. But, as someone once taught me, nothing happens unless you ask for the order, and that is the major move this industry needs to embrace – asking those available to fill those slots, now and into the future.
To that end, I was certainly glad to see the recent announcement that the University of the Aftermarket Foundation helped to facilitate such a shout-out to prospective recruits to the industry, working with the popular television shows “Two Guys Garage” and “Truck U,” which will air public service announcements (PSAs) promoting the virtues of education and the availability of scholarships for those seeking a career in the auto care industry. The TV spots, produced for the University of the Aftermarket Foundation by Brenton Productions, the TV shows’ producer, share information about the auto care industry scholarships available at automotivescholarships.com. The announcement was reported in our sister publication, The Greensheet.
If you take the time to look at the PSAs, you will clearly see these are well-produced messages that will resonate with the real prospects for this industry – positive messages for those who already have a bit of a passion for today’s vehicles. But it is only a start.
Along with these public service spots, we need more training facilities, both regionally and nationally, involved in training more future techs. It is great to see the UTI ads on a number of TV programs, but more vocational programs need to get involved. And our industry needs to work hand-in-hand with these training providers in the same way they already work with the automakers. Scholarship funds will go a long way to encourage them, and we need to raise even more money than we already are gathering.
But the victory in this war will come with winning the hearts and minds of those who would consider our industry as a means to a career. Video ads and social media programs can show them the opportunities that abound, and can do that in a method that elicits a favorable emotional response.
And speaking of war, one fertile area for recruitment of qualified candidates for these technician positions in our industry should involved the armed forces. There are Wounded Warrior Programs affiliated with each of the five military branches, and our trade associations should be working to liaison these programs to their industry members. Council of Economic Advisers research shows that the unemployment rate for recent veterans remains incredibly high — around 10 percent — and remains noticeably higher than it is for non-veterans in the same demographic group. The jobless rate for all U.S. veterans was just 6.9 percent in October — slightly lower than it is for the population as a whole.
These are qualified candidates, many with technical and mechanical experience, who just need an opportunity to get restarted after serving our nation selflessly. Our industry has plenty of opportunity for these veterans who understand discipline and what it takes to work within a team – a true win-win for all involved.
I have no doubt that this industry will rally to meet this challenge, as it has in the past in facing most critical issues. But we must all do our share, in a global sense, in getting our associations and others moving to make this all happen. But it will also take the efforts of each of us as individuals in making sure the foundation of this industry is kept viable and strong. And those folks in the service bays are truly the foundation for your future.
Gary A. Molinaro
We encourage you to add your comments below concerning this article.