Let’s start with the bad news – get right into it, Band-Aid style.
There is likely to be a shortfall of more than 800,000 techs to serve the motoring public over the next five years.
Of course, that not really “news,” at least not of the breaking variety. We’ve been wrestling with numbers like these for decades – the information that fewer students are coming out of school trained to be or at least excited about being part of this industry has been on a lot of minds for a very long time.
Well, here’s some good news: while the challenges are still there, the shortfall is actually projected to be lower than what we’ve seen in the past. According to the year-end report from TechForce Foundation, the national organization that champions the technician profession across all segments of the transportation universe, for the first time in 10 years, collective completions of postsecondary automotive, collision, diesel and aviation programs have increased.
“This is wonderful news,” explains Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation. “TechForce Foundation and its donors have worked tirelessly to dispel the outdated stigmas; to share the upside and advantages that a technician career offers; to show respect for techs and their vital role in keeping America moving; and helping young people who love problem-solving, technology and working with their hands to find an education and career that fits. When we see an uptick in program completions, we have faith that the hard work is paying off.”
The 2023 Technician Supply & Demand Report shows that the technician workforce grew by 4.3% from 2021 to 2022, outpacing the overall U.S. labor force’s growth (4.0%) for the first time. While this is good news, the report still finds a gap remains. The industry needs 795,000 new automotive, diesel, collision repair, aviation and avionics technicians to meet demand over the next five years (2023-2027).
Of course, all of the trades are trying to recruit the next generation of professional, so how can we compete? First, it takes an effort from all of us. There are many ways you can help play the long game, and TechForce has free resources to help inspire and promote the profession.
“I think you have to cast that net wide to reach those young people with curious minds; who love problem solving; who have that tactile intelligence; who love pulling things apart and putting it back together again,” Maher says. “Watch how they play. When a kid is tinkering, they are predisposed to be one of our kids.”
“Think about ‘cause marketing,’” Maher says. “It’s for things people believe in. If you hand your customer a brochure designed to inspire a kid who likes to take things apart and put them back together, they’re likely to be receptive. It’s not telling them about what YOU need for your shop because why do I as an individual care about that? But I might have a kid, a grandkid, or my niece or nephew. I’m thinking about their future. Every kid deserves to find an education, a career that fits.”
You’re not doing for YOU, you’re doing it for US. Learn more about the free resources available to keep the good news coming by visiting TechForce.org