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launched an industry-wide campaign to respond to a critical shortage of dealership service technicians by overcoming outdated stereotypes about the career.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 .