Editor's Notebook: The Next Move Is Yours

Editor’s Notebook: The Next Move Is Yours

Our crack research team at Babcox Media recently completed an annual readership study of shops who subscribe to ImportCar magazine. More than half of our readers say there is a desperate need for qualified help, yet nearly two-thirds say they don't do anything about it.

Our crack research team at Babcox Media recently completed an annual readership study of shops who subscribe to ImportCar magazine.

It’s always educational to connect with you, the reader, whether it’s at an industry event, a one-on-one meeting in our booth at a tradeshow or through the more official though somewhat less personal means like our TechGroup profile. Sometimes it’s exciting and encouraging. Sometimes…

Survey respondents tell us this year that their number one business concern is “Keeping pace with the the growing complexity of vehicle repair.” The number three concern on the list is “Telematics and having the data to repair newer vehicles.”

Neither of those are too surprising – they’re legitimate concerns, and both are things that we at ImportCar (and, in fact, all of our sister publications too) pride ourselves on helping you with on a daily basis.

The scary thing is concern No. 2: “Finding and hiring qualified technicians,” ranked as a key concern by 59% of survey respondents.

Again, not really a surprise – this is probably either the first or second most common complaint shop owners and managers have shared with me for years. We hear every day that there is a desperate lack of interest from young people on pursuing the trades and that nearly half of available positions remain unfilled and probably will for the forseeable future.

Focus groups, panels and associations have been called and convened to try to decide what the industry can do about the shortage.

My question is what are YOU doing about it?

In addition to the big picture questions about business management, shop size, parts purchases, etc., the TechGroup profile asked two other, more personal questions and these results to me are most troubling.

When asked “Do you mentor students attending tech/vocational schools?” 61% of respondents said no.

When asked “Do you rely on local schools as a source for qualified technicians?” another 64% of our respondents answered in the negative.

More than half of our readers say there is a desperate need for qualified help, yet nearly two-thirds say they don’t do anything about it.

In his article this month, regular contributor Donny Seyfer explains his involvement with the Foundation for Advanced STEM Education (FASE) program in his community. Seeking to encourage kids who might not be seen as “college material” (a favorite phrase of counselors when I was in high school) even at the elementary school level, Donny and his partners are regularly showing kids that they have valuable contributions to offer.

How can you help change these numbers? Get involved with your high school, vocational school or trade college and do two things: ask what they need and offer to help.

It’s time we put our mouths where our money is.

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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.

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