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  • Growing Severity of the Supply Shortage in Vehicle Technicians

    Posted by Site Administrator on June 26, 2018 at 7:39 am

    TechForce Report Reveals Growing Severity of the Supply Shortage in Vehicle Technicians

    Gap between postsecondary graduate numbers and job openings continues to widen

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – June 26, 2018 — TechForce Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on championing and aiding aspiring transportation technicians has released a new report — “Transportation Technician Supply Report” — that reveals the growing severity of the vehicle technician supply shortage. See attachment to access report.

    Based on an analysis of National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) 2011-2016 data, TechForce found that postsecondary supply of new entrant vehicle technicians has not kept up with the spike in demand. Although the shortage has been ongoing, it became more severe in 2013 and the gap between supply and demand has continued to increase through the present. New entrant technicians are those needed to fill the growth in new positions in the occupation as well as replace those who leave the occupation. They are distinguished from experienced technicians who may move between employers but don’t add to the overall trained workforce in the occupation.

    The report reveals that auto tech postsecondary completions have been declining since 2013. The supply of postsecondary auto graduates decreased by 1,829 completions in 2016 from 2012. There were an estimated 38,829 graduates for 2016 in contrast to the projected Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) new entrant demand of 75,900. Private sector institutions have experienced the greatest decline while public two-year institutions (primarily community colleges) have increased substantially.

    The supply of collision technicians has been steadily declining over the past six years. Conversely, total postsecondary completions for diesel programs have increased over the same period. The projected BLS new entrant demand for diesel technicians is 28,300 annually against a supply of 11,966 in 2016. For the collision market, the projected BLS annual new entrant demand is 17,200 technicians compared to supply of 5,791 completions in 2016.

    As to what can be done to alleviate the supply shortage, Jennifer Maher, CEO/executive director of TechForce said, “Our country and education system have divested in high school auto shops and stigmatized trade school education which is killing the trades. A big part of the problem is the outdated image of the ‘grease monkey’ mechanic that students and their parents, teachers and counselors may have. Today’s techs are well paid, highly skilled, hands-on problem solvers who are not burdened by massive school debt like their four-year school counterparts. As we change this image we can get more students interested in becoming technicians.”

    Doug Young, co-author of the report and managing director of Wilcap L.L.C, said, “Changing perceptions will require building a pipeline into the industry—before parents and students have committed to ‘college for all,’ before students have decided that they aren’t interested in STEM subjects in high school, and before the old perceptions eliminate any interest among parents and career counselors in learning more about the opportunities in the transportation technician occupations.”

    Greg Settle, the other co-author of the report and TechForce’s director of national initiatives, said, “With only a small percentage of students interested in going into a skilled trade versus seeking a college degree, the competition among all the skilled trades for those students is fierce. If you look at auto technicians, they can make a very solid, middle-class income. However, starting wages for auto technicians are among the lowest across the skilled trades, and that is often what young and men and women will focus on when making a career decision. Add to that the fact that entry-level technicians are expected to arrive at their first job with their own tools and it does not make the career very attractive, compared with other choices.”

    According to Maher, “Without some form of focused, collective action, the transportation industry will continue to suffer from inadequately financed, fragmented efforts to solve these problems. A solution requires pooling resources and consistent public messaging to change perceptions and build a talent pipeline. TechForce Foundation is dedicated to providing the collective source of action to solve the root causes of the problem.”

    This report, along with last year’s demand report, are examples of how TechForce works to create awareness of the problem, provide credible data to support the industry’s claims, and with even greater industry participation, improve the range and quality of these services.

    Funding for the report was provided by TechForce donors, including Advance Auto Parts, Autoshop Solutions, AutoZone, Babcox Media, Bridgestone Retail Operations, Cengage, General Motors, George Arrants Enterprises, Interstate Batteries, Nissan North America, Manheim, Shell Lubricants, Snap-on, S/P2, Sunstate Equipment, Toyota Foundation, Universal Technical Institute, Valvoline, WD-40 and 10 Missions Media.

    About TechForce Foundation

    TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion students to and through their education and into careers as professional technicians in the transportation industry. The Foundation distributes more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors, and is spearheading FutureTech Success™, the industry-wide initiative to help encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession. For more information, visit

    Media Contacts

    Mike Pressendo, [email protected], 602-363-8861

    Jennifer Maher, Executive Director, [email protected], 602-550-0371

    Joseph Van syoc replied 3 years, 9 months ago 9 Members · 23 Replies
  • 23 Replies
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  • Joseph Van syoc

    June 26, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Why would anyone these days go into auto repair when they can make considerably better wages as a plumber, electrician, sheet metal worker, HVAC installer? All with considerably less to learn and tools to invest in?  It is not just “college” we are competing with, it is other skilled trades who figured out the have to pay what you are worth if they are going to get decent help.  IMO the automotive industry has NEVER figured that out, despite the lip service they pay to the issue

  • Alan Ollie

    June 26, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    Why would anyone these days go into auto repair!

    I don’t know what your shop pays your techs. A entry level b tech in Florida makes 55k plus benefits.

    After 4-5 years a top tech should be making 80-100k

    I just had a new a/c unit installed and I spoke to the owner of the company. They have 50 employees. The starting pay for a HVAC tech is 15-17 per hour. A top tech makes 25-30 a hr. Salary no incentive pay.

    So, if an Automotive tech has the talent they can make s nice living.

    Don’t even talk to me about plumbers they work in [email protected] every day. Yuk

  • Joseph Van syoc

    June 27, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Not anywhere around here. An A tech may make that, but more likely he was promised a “potential” and you can’t eat potential.  Entry level starts at around $11 hr, and McD here will start you at $10 hr., no tools and no skills required.  It was pretty bad when I had to take a part time job driving truck, and that pays more than I make fixing them, just saying.  If you want to resolve the basic issue with the tech shortage, you have to address the pay issue.  (BTW. alot of plumbers never work around
    $#!+, but in new construction) I noted over the years that it takes about 5 years of schooling and OJT to make a decent B tech, and I also saw alot of guys chuck it in before 5 years in this trade.

  • jay weckerle

    July 4, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    In 1992 I made $16 flat rate as THE guy that could figure anything out. Now I make $19 flat rate. Warranty times have dropped and the CP times based on them have dropped. I owned my own business for a few years and did the service manager thing for a few years. I went back to being a tech because I don’t need the big money anymore and I find great satisfaction in being the drivability/performance guy that can always figure it out. If I had to do this for the money, I wouldn’t.

  • John Burkhauser

    July 5, 2018 at 7:02 am

    There are opportunities no matter how you look at this issue.

    Those who see them and grab them will be the winners.

    You need a plan.  How to keep your current techs.  How to grow your own techs. Where to look for the next generation of techs which maybe the key to it all.


  • JoeHenry

    July 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    I have written many published articles on this subject. Plus for years have worked to recruit pro-bono for our local community college that has excellent auto/diesel/collision/marine programs with degrees.

    Here is why young people will diminish in numbers in our vocation: They all know how to use the Internet, they all know they will have 10’s of thousands of debt when they finish, PLUS tool expense, and when they look up “Auto Technician Salary”, here is what they see……..

    “Automotive Technician average earnings in this role come out to $17.28 per hour in the United States. Overall cash earnings for Automotive Technicians stretch from $23K on the lower end to $62K near the top.”

    And we continue to wonder why young people are avoiding our industry like ebloa

  • nessautosales

    July 9, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    This is a subject that we all should be thinking about but not a select few will be able to accomplish a solution. I had a first had account of this. I hired a high school kid, he worked for us  a couple of summers and eventually just left to become a electrician. We talked a while on this. I really wanted him to follow his heart. People do what they do for different reasons. He’s going to work as a apprentice technican for $4 a hour less than I would have paid him starting out as a tech. He had some specifics he was looking for in a career. He was very focused on what he wanted. While he wanted to make good money that was not the main driving factor. I have a very hard time listening to people cry because of the technician shortage and then do nothing about it.  The reason the profession isn’t viewed that highly is because as owners we don’t talk like it is. Techs these days are highly trained and very smart in alot of different aspects. There’s guys that can go to school forever and will never have what it takes. The ASE system which is suppose to be the industries way of telling whether a tech is good or not is laughed about in the industry. If a tech comes in ASE master certified I put him under a microscope more than any. It only proves he can take a test.  Most of them aren’t very good to say the least. Techs often moonlight for extra money. The techs I’ve found that moonlight are usually the worst techs there is. Not because it offends me ….but they’re making less for a reason. In our area anyway any techs that are good are being taken care of pretty well.

    Here’s what I think we need to do to fix the problem:

    • Come up with a certification techs need to work in a shop.
    • Present our profession as a profession, not a back yard shade tree job.
    • People want titles and professional appearance…not just a hole in the wall to work.
    • Talk with schools and convince them that people that want to go into trades aren’t second class.

    If we want to attract people to the field we need to make it a profession…not a job.

  • JoeHenry

    July 9, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Ness, here is part of one of my published articles that addresses some of the points and questions you ask:

    Accelerating down the end of a cul-de-sac on Techs

    While everyone is justifiably focused on the crescendo of long overdue Tech recruitment and training programs, there is not, as of yet, a feverish discussion TO SAVE the precious Techs we have, NOR how to keep apprentice Techs from “washing out” either in training or on their new job.

    I contend that this should be widely understood as the root cause of the jittery Tech shortage and they are ultimately far more important. A continued decline in the Technician pool holds the potential to ignite panic. These developments would strike at the very heart of every shop’s economic foundation that has supported the country since the end of World War II when GIs came home and bought a car.

    The wave of Tech shortages threatens to push the nation’s shops economies into a recession that not even the Fed could bail out.

    Recent articles in publications (like above TechForce Report) have provided a fresh twist on our decades-old “Tech shortage policy”. But despite the facts stated in these articles, they were not accompanied by any REAL solution that would actually do anything to stop the skid of good Techs getting recruited out of our industry, OR how to keep newly anointed Techs from ripping off and throwing their safety glasses across the shop when discovering that they got paid 35 hours (flat rate) after spending 40+ hours at the shop.

    Believe me, I hear this from seasoned AND beginner Techs constantly who have vaporized from our industry.

    Continuing to pay Techs on the antiquated Flat-Rate system is like driving a high-performance car faster down a cul-de-sac.

    Owners: raise your door rate up 20% to support more gross! Then take your A & B Techs, give them a guaranteed weekly PLUS production bonus so they make the same as engineers, $75k to $150k a year, without killing themselves or smoking every ticket they can get their latex gloves on. C Techs- $50k with production bonuses. D and Apprentice – guaranteed $35k to $40k with career paths to make perpetually more.

    If we all lack the courage to administer such medicine, the headache will get more severe all the way down the cul-da-sac to the scene of the crash!


  • nessautosales

    July 9, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Joe Henry, Respectfully I’d like to ask a few questions and make a few comments in a effort of conversation.  I’m curious as to who you are or your credentials of writing articles and such on the automotive industry? One thing I’m always curious about is when people throw our hard numbers such as $50k or $100k a year….. These numbers will vary dramatically based on your area and cost of living. I can drive a 20 mile stretch in the area I live and a average house could go from $600k to $250k based 100% on it’s location.

    I think we all agree that maybe flatrate isn’t a cure all for everything but I think people forget why some things come into place. In my lifetime there was a time when the shop supplied 100% of the tools. I also remember when we were hourly. Contrary to what people think all these changes were made for a reason. Lost tools all the time….low production….somewhere along the line someone thought this was a good solution.

    I was responsible in 2005 when we implemented the flatrate system. The system did cure techs that produced $55% and get them to 90% overnight. We used to have a incentive base before that. One thing I found is there isn’t 1 flatrate system. Everyone has their variations of it. While similar there are several variables. Personally we have a 3 part pay system. A tech out of school works straight hourly. During this time he has to establish quality work and to be able to do things in a timely manner. Then he steps up to hourly with incentive. The base is lower….but he receives a sizable incentive based on the flatrate system. We still watch quality and doing things in a timely manner…but there becomes a larger incentive for him to produce. The last step is flatrate. This is production based with a checks and balances put in place for quality.

    You’ve thrown some stout numbers out there Mr Henry. I don’t believe they will work because of something called math.  I would be interested in how your numbers work but here’s what I’m looking at. I’ll uses some real numbers to show you. So I have a tech that bills out $60k a year in labor. I increase my price by 20% so he bills out $72,000 a year. Your saying he should be paid $50k a year and get bonuses. Let’s say there’s $1000 in bonuses a month available so it puts his pay at $62,000 a year. Net it out by 25% to cover the cost of taxes, and benefits he costs $77,500. If a shop is going to go $5000 in the hole to hire someone they may as well not be in business.  I’m curious as to how you look at the numbers to get them to work.

    I personally still don’t think it’s about the money. I had one of our tool truck guys tell me the same thing last week.  He said originally he did…but not any more. Also 90% of the engineers in our area don’t make $175k a year. We stress too much in hours because that’s our primary measurement of success. I think it’s a bit more stressful because each guy is individually responsible for his success. I’m not sure what the answer is but I’m up for conversation about it.

  • Alan Ollie

    July 9, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    I don’t know if anyone saw the program “The story of Cool” on CNN Sunday night it could teach all of us some lessons about advertising. Young people in middle school need to think it’s cool to be a tech. The perception now is more like being a grease monkey. Not a automotive tech . Mabey we need glitzy ads early on. Show people building race cars, and using computers to figure out problems. Clean shops and clean cut techs. You catch more fish by chumming the waters than just casting a hook. Just a thaught. Ollie G

  • nessautosales

    July 9, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    EXACTLY vdepot.

  • JoeHenry

    July 10, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Ness, we are getting off subject here about bringing new blood into our field, so feel free to call me direct (just like my other 3,000+ clients with independent shops) at 727-733-5600 7-days a week until 8:30pm eastern.

    But quick answers to your questions – I was on flat-rate starting age 13 at my dad’s shop, put myself through college by turning wrenches (in my day there were no such thing as student loans), at 23 got recruited by a subsidiary of Don McGill Automotive in Houston where I built race boats/cars/trucks for mostly oil field rough-necks. Since then have owned 2 shops and still an equity (but silent partner) in one in the Tampa Bay area that does mechanical/collision/hot-rod fabrication.

    You say potatoes, I say spuds…. but in this case, I think we are not talking about the same thing? If your Techs are “billing” $60k a year, I am sure my techs and most of the shops on this forum are billing: average 50 hours flat-rate a week, X $100 shop rate = $5k a week X 52 weeks = $260,000 a year. Even if you drop the shop rate to $75 an hour is $195,000. And we are not talking parts profit yet

    Once again, this thread was not on these subjects so feel free to call me – Joe Henry ACT Auto/Truck/Collison Staffing

  • nessautosales

    July 10, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Actually Joe we’re not getting off track. People always like to complain about things when when asked to present a viable solution they either don’t want to or can’t. Your numbers sound good when you look at them. However here’s a few discrepancies.

    • You Figure 52 weeks a year at 50 hours a week. I know I take vacations to recharge and so do my employees.  So recalculate to 49 or 50 weeks. ( my techs get up to 3 weeks paid off)
    • In a recent ratchet and wrench column 97% of the shops in the united states are less than 80% productive. So take your 50 hours in a 40 hours week and knock it down to 32 hours.
    • I’m not sure on the last number. I’m going off the assumption that the $100/ hour is posted labor rate. When actually most shops only average 85% of the door as a ELR. So for a hourly rate use $85.

    That being said if you use those numbers your dollars billed becomes $136,000 not he $195,000

    My point isn’t to argue…but to work towards a realistic goal. Yes, some places greed takes over….but I think for the majority of shop owners they’re just trying to make a decent living. To come up with a viable solution to this problem it has to work for alot of people. It has to work for the employee, the shop, the shop owner, and all of their familys.  The sad part is most techs have no clue what they even make. They can tell you their hourly rate…but from there they have no clue.


  • wswtech

    July 10, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Gentlemen, while we seem to have gotten slightly off track with the math (and in my experience, there are many ways to look at the math), we are missing a significant point. However, mathematically speaking, one of you hit the nail on the head: the issue I’ve discovered, on a grass-roots level, is that our industry, especially the Heavy Truck Industry, is not nearly as enticing a career to enter as say, I.T. I have visited the Tech Schools, and have spoken with the students. In one case, out of 14 students, 0(zero) is the number who would actually take a job as a tech. We (all of us), are like a bad commercial for an even worse movie from Holley Wood. Flat Rate Pay is just one of many issues. In 20+ years of consulting on my own, I’ve heard of every type pay plan imaginable.  Like advertising, “there is no magic silver bullet.” We simply MUST find the gearheads out there! Please let me know when you do.

  • Alan Ollie

    July 10, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    “wswtech”  Scott You said a magic word “gearhead” Now if it were cool to be a gearhead then younger potential techs would be more plentiful.

    Start off in middle school advertising making it look cool to be on a race team or whatever.

    Back in the 90’s I could round up 20 guys to go to a 24-hour race all I had to do was pay there way. Now its hard to get one or two guys to help out. Same here let’s find and make more “gearheads”.

    The big companies have their hands in the tech schools pocketbook. Good luck finding a teacher refer a “gearhead” to an independent at least at my Alma mater Sheridan Vocational school.


  • nessautosales

    July 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Yes, I hear you to find the gearheads. One of the major issues is kids don’t work on cars with their dads anymore. They’re too complicated to work on at home therefore kids don’t get the opportunity as much to experience it.

  • wswtech

    July 10, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Agreed, and a heady topic at best. So, guys, how do we appeal to those who are “less than enthralled”?

  • nessautosales

    July 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I think most of all we need to change the image. Most people still think of techs as grease monkeys in a dirty job. I’l never forget one day when my high school guidance counselor walked into our shop and was staring at me. I smiled and asked him what he was looking at. He asked how I worked on a car in a white shirt. I was dressed in Khakis, a white shirt, and rubber gloves. I told him that it’s not a greasy dirty job any more. This is peoples opinion of the trade. Keep in mind this was my high school guidance counselor. The person who helps steer students towards a career.  This is their opinion of us.

    There’s a old country western song that goes something like “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” I’m not going to type the rest out but think about that song.


    We need to change the image. It has to be prestigious to be a tech. How do you think new car dealers hire techs for $5 a hour less than a independant. They walk into a fancy building every day. We don’t just need to change the image for the potential tech….more inportantly we need to change the image for the parents and teachers. They’re the people steering them away from the trade.

  • Alan Ollie

    July 10, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    “nessautosales”   Mabey in North Dakota the dealers pay less. Mabey they have better heaters. In Florida, the Dealers don’t pay more but they all have air-conditioned shops.

  • Gerald Gauthier

    July 28, 2018 at 10:43 am

    My personal thought is that we must bring back Auto Shop in the schools. Not for idiots and dopers but for willing participants. We have as a society”Dumbed Down”, Enthusiasm, motivation and desire to actually serve each other in our natural bends and talents. We now have lazy, fat unmotivated children.

  • Alan Ollie

    August 1, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    I have shown this thread to 10 people all under the age of 30 and they all agreed someone needs to make a reality TV show on how cool it is to be a tech. They are all fake and scripted anyway. Show guys closing the shop at 3:00 to go surf and having fun and after work going out on jet skis, boats, skateboarding, riding, cool bikes, etc. Just a thought.

  • Alan Ollie

    September 19, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Educate middle school and high school kids. Some will work the parts counter, Service Writers, Some techs. They might like cars. The cost of tools WTF how much $ in tools do you need to start out $1500. Then weekly you contribute to your techs tool pay.

    We are having a lucky streak we have 2 new techs in 2 months. A steady flow of 2-3 calls or visits a week. Just off craigslist saying accepting a limited number applicants 4 days a week no Saturdays  

    No superstars but two x military guys who want to learn. Call your local Veterans administration say you are accepting a limited number applicants. Swap sides make it look like you do not need them.

  • Joseph Van syoc

    September 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    I have spent my entire career screaming “It’s the money,stupid” but no one listens, they would rather cry about how they can’t find techs