Advances in Technology Creates a Shortage of Qualified Technicians

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    When having their vehicles serviced, people rarely think about the technician who is going to work on it.
    Where do these individuals come from? Lately, and no pun intended, there’s a wrench in the works: a shortage of qualified mechanics (technicians). This comes at a time when technology is out of control. Electronic controls for the engine, suspension, steering, brakes and nearly everything else have made already complicated motor vehicles even more so.
    The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says an average of 76,000 mechanics are needed each year from now until 2026, both to replace those retiring or leaving the industry and to fill some 46,000 projected new openings.
    Employment in the field dropped by 10 percent during the Great Recession, bottoming out at 587,510 jobs in 2010, according to the labor department. It has only recently come close to its 2007 level, with 647,380 mechanics employed in 2016.
    Today, Americans are driving a larger vehicle fleet more miles than ever as mechanical and electronic complexity have outpaced improved vehicle reliability. The result is a labor shortage that has increased workloads among automotive technicians and is leading to more hassles and higher prices for customers.
    The challenges facing the industry are numerous. Although pay can be competitive after several years of turning wrenches and reading diagnostic scanners, the job requires a deep commitment to learning the necessary mechanical and digital skills. The tools of the trade are expensive.
    Plus, enticing today’s tech-oriented youth into a profession that requires getting their hands dirty can be difficult. Many opt for the tech field where wages are high and hands are clean. The problem for repair facilities is that our industry is very competitive and consumers are looking for the best deal.
    Well consumers can expect prices to go up in the future. The shrinking community of qualified technicians with valuable experience will need to get paid more. Automotive repair really is a high-tech industry. Drivers still look at the industry as a grease pit and don’t understand the value of the workers. We do not consider these valuable employees as mechanics anymore; they are technicians.
    There is another group to consider and that is the entry-level lube tech crowd. It used to be that you would get into the industry by changing oil or mounting tires to get experience. I can tell you that there is no age group that wants to perform oil changes or tire work for $15 to $18 an hour. It is unglamorous, hard and dirty work. Twenty-somethings would rather work at Costco. There is no value to the millennial crowd to work for cheap to get experience.
    There are some who will take the job, but they often have no or little experience, which equals bad results for the consumer. That is a problem considering the complexity of today’s vehicles. Even oil changes are much more tricky than they were before.
    A good repair shop is going to have some long-term quality employees who deserve to get paid top dollar, which will affect the price the consumer pays for maintenance or repairs. But high-paid, experienced technicians get the results you need.
    We can expect to pay more for automotive services across the board. That is why I always say that you should shop for quality rather than price. This will become even more true in the future. 

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