Auto Industry Launches Effort to Counter Critical Shortage of Service Technicians



    SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1 -- Automotive Retailing Today (ART), a
coalition of all major auto manufacturers and dealer associations, today
launched an industry-wide campaign to respond to a critical shortage of
dealership service technicians by overcoming outdated stereotypes about the
career.
    The facts make a compelling case for action: Bureau of Labor statistics
confirm that automobile dealerships need 35,000 new people annually through
2010 for high-paying technician jobs, due to growth and net replacement needs.
Hiring service technicians has become a driving industry need-and with it, the
need to inform the public about the lucrative and rewarding career
opportunities these jobs offer.
    "In today's era of economic uncertainty and unexpected layoffs, real
opportunity exists -- and will continue to exist -- for job seekers interested
in becoming service technicians. Pay and demand for such positions are high,
which translates into high job security, opportunities for mobility and great
benefits. Through this communication effort, ART hopes to drive qualified
candidates to these positions," said James Willingham, Chairman of Automotive
Retailing Today.
    In particular, ART hopes to develop working relationships with U.S.
military outplacement referral centers. The pool of recently released veterans
of military service contains a high proportion of technologically savvy,
motivated individuals whose skills may be easily adaptable to auto repair.
    Research for this initiative started in 2001 when ART engaged Wirthlin
Worldwide to survey parents, teens and educators on their opinion of auto
industry careers. The results showed that awareness of these jobs and related
job benefits was low. But the good news was that the disinterest resulted from
a lack of information -- disinterest that quickly reversed when parents, teens
and educators learned more about the technician shortage and the benefits
associated with these careers.
    In September 2002, ART invited auto industry, community and career
education leaders to review the study findings and to exchange ideas about how
best to reach out to target populations. The purpose of the session was to
understand what other groups are doing in this area and to identify gaps that
could be filled by ART.
    ART will launch a communication program to raise awareness about today's
modern auto technician careers, steering potential applicants to programs in
their communities or state. The communication effort will create a central
repository of research in this area; establish a website designed to provide
information about technician careers along with links to other organizations
which can provide hands-on assistance; conduct direct mail to educators and
guidance counselors to make them aware of the new information resources;
provide resource materials to the schools and ART members; and develop
relationships with third-party groups, such as the U.S. military outplacement
programs. ART's initiative will support other industry efforts already
underway in the technician recruitment area. More details will be released as
they become available.
    Promoting automotive careers is consistent with ART's mission: to
challenge outdated stereotypes of automotive retailing by presenting facts
from today. As evidenced by the increases in consumer satisfaction reflected
in its biannual research on attitudes and perceptions of the automobile
purchase experience, ART has proven itself truly capable of moving the needle
to positively influence perceptions of the auto retailing industry. ART now
hopes to bring about similar success by addressing the technician shortage
crisis facing the industry and communicating the rewards such careers offer.
    For more information, visit http://www.autoretailing.org .
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