Cars these days require a level of diagnostic expertise never needed in the past, rolling computers & all. Just curious, do auto repair shops have difficulty finding new employee’s to hire with the necessary skills? Do you have problems training the existing employees up to today’s needed skill levels?
Yes, there is a lack of skilled workers. I have been hearing that from repair and machine shops for over 20 years. The more complicated controls just make that all that much worse.
It seems like around 2015 the engine and transmissions got super-complicated, must be very difficult to diagnose what’s wrong w/out the proper education, skill level, and training.
Electronic engine controls have been common for over 4 decades. Electronic transmissions for over 3 decades.
2015 was just another year on the calendar.
Yes, absolutely. The industry made our own beds in this one, the chickens are coming home to roost. For years and years shops treated mechanics like unskilled labor. Go do this work for this much money and if you don’t like it there’s the door. Well guess what? Poor technician compensation coupled with the removal of the trades from high school curriculums result in a technician shortage the likes of which I haven’t seen in my 30+ years in the business. Some people (even on this forum) look at mechanics as grease monkeys worth $25/hr. The fact is a top of his game experienced tech will easily clear over $100K in this job market.
Needing technical ability beyond the level of turning wrenches is nothing new and not unique to this trade. However the job of auto mechanic is evolving. It’s not enough to be able to do nuts and bolts. Every day the techs I see are asked to fix the Apple Car Play that’s not working, the phone that won’t pair to the infotainment, the rear video screen that’s blank, the radar cruise control, and so on. Add in the coming of age of hybrids and EVs…
As often as not, I can’t fix your car without a laptop and wi-fi access. Finding people competent in electronics and networking as well as nuts and bolts is becoming increasingly more difficult.
I didn’t even think of diagnosing problems w/ the late-model car infotainment stuff. Yeah, that puts a period at the end of the sentence for sure. Wifi, bluetooth, ApplePlay, cell-phone interactions, etc, takes a lot of practical know-how & experience to know how all that stuff even works, let alone diagnose and repair it. I have to ask a teenager at the gym how to use my cell phone sometimes … lol …
All I know is the shop I use, I used to get next day service. When I made an appointment to get my coolant changed he was booked up for two weeks. Said staffing was a problem. Ive had no problem at the Acura dealer though. Good selection of time slots and perfect work. Get ready for doctors next. The med schools are in a little disarray. Plenty of people for gardening work though.
Purpetuated by every “can I fix this dent myself, I know nothing about cars??” post.
Or the person who got a 110 piece tool set for Christmas who now thinks they can install a cheap Ebay turbo kit because they saw someone do it on YouTube.
Posts like that increasingly tick me off.
If it was that easy, there would not be a tech shortage.
Well sure but everyone starts somewhere and pre eBay, or internet, or even computers, there were books and magazines that showed body work and customs from start to finish. I agree though if you get to be 20 and still know nothing, better off to hire it.
I am an HVAC technician, and people say the same thing in my industry, and there is certainly an acute shortage of technicians…but employers have resisted doing the one thing which will attract more–and better–applicants. And that, of course, is to offer better pay, and better work/life balance.
Too many contractors want to start apprentices at $16-18 an hour, even though fast food pays about the same, and they want to offer a raise to a paltry $20 an hour after two years of experience, meanwhile an apprentice is expected to spend thousands of dollars on tools and equipment, while receiving poverty wages. Needless to say, many don’t make it–they simply can’t afford to live on the pittance they are paid, and it doesn’t make sense to work so hard, and be outside in the heat and sun, climb into hot attics, under mobile homes, etc, for such little money.
Even with almost 20 years of experience, I don’t gross anywhere near the $100k that companies claim their “top techs” make. In fact, I don’t even make $60k. And now that I am older, I am developing aches and pain, etc.
When my generation finally ages out of the business, I don’t see how we will be replaced. There are just not enough youngsters getting into the business, and inadequate starting pay is a huge reason why. Even journeyman pay is inadequate, when you consider the time drain, and the physical toll. When people can make way more money working from home on their laptop, it’s hard to recruit good, dependable employees.
As the mechanics trade continues to evolve and require more electronics background, there will be contention for resources with traditional industries that require those skills. How will the current mechanic compensation scheme compete with industry that pays higher wages, does not include the back breaking mechanical aspect, employer provides all the training and tools required to do the job and is more or less an 8 hour day with guaranteed wages? It can’t. Something has to change or the dearth of those resources in auto repair will continue to increase.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a kid can go through 2 years of tech school and walk into a 100K job. But that young tech can finish the 2 year program, demonstrate competence, maintain an A grade, and be placed at a local dealership for $22/hr. And how far and fast he moves up will depend on his talent/ability/work ethic, and also being with the right employer.
I’m sure there are also differences in your industry (like mine) based on location. I was at a training event in the SF Bay area talking to a mechanic, he was glad to be there because with this certification complete his dealer would bump his pay to $52/hr. The county where I work has an average home price of $800,000. Areas where houses are $400,000 have lower wages.
My 16 year old just started a part-time job washing dishes for $16/hr.
Well, my opinion on that is that you can sleep or you can eat! Seriously, in my view, if you want to make a little more than the next guy, you may have to work a little more. If you want to make a lot more…I spent 20 years of my career working 6 days a week.
Well, no one goes into the automotive field because they want to make a ton of money. Most of us are here because we find the work interesting and have some innate mechanical ability. We’re called gearheads for a reason. And yes the job is physical, but generally not as back-breaking as concrete, construction, or even HVAC work can be.
As far as an 8 hour day, well, that’s one of the upsides of the flat-rate system. I recently had 2 mechanics talking to each other, both about the same age, both solid “B” level techs, both working on the same types of cars, and both making almost exactly the same weekly pay. Chuck gets into work around 7:30 and goes until 6 at night. Larry works 9 to 4. Both guys earn about 10 hours of pay a day, but since Larry is more efficient, he has a shorter work day.
No matter what you do, if the work is not interesting, you need to find a different occupation. Life is too short to be miserable. I personally value interesting work very highly and part of my overall compensation “package”
But the competing roles I’m referencing have almost no physically demanding aspect to the job.
But are they making $95k out of school and have a hybrid work schedule that allows some work from home potential? We have some hourly people but mostly salary roles. The hourly people are eligible for overtime pay. They don’t have to spend any of their own money on tools, those are provided. So no compensation dilution from job expenses. Good benefits, 401k matching and profit sharing. Even then, we are also often outbid by some of the behemoth companies where upward mobility is even more available and for the current generation, that is a huge consideration for them.
I get the labor of love thing, don’t get me wrong. But faced with the two opportunities, it’s going to be harder to attract people if it’s not apples to apples…
I don’t know that work from home will ever be a possibility for the auto service industry. The bulk of our work is still hands on like plumbing and roofing. And I don’t know that our trade would value that as much as “white collar” positions do.
I’m running training this week, typical class of morning lecture and slideshow, afternoon hands-on in the shop. Actual comment I got this morning was “I can’t sit for 3 hours. I don’t know how people have desk jobs.”
Automotive legend Smokey Yunick closed his shop “Best Da(ng) Garage In Town” back in 1987 because he could find no more good mechanics.
I gave 4 months notice when I retired from my job of 31 years managing electrical engineering labs at a university in April 2022.
They are still looking for a suitable replacement.
I’ve noticed the recent crop seems to have a lot of textbook memorizers lacking common sense & having poor language skills. Not a good combo for a physician choice imo. Apparently would-be medical students these days have learned they can achieve success by memorizing the textbooks and practice test-taking hour after hour.
My 7th grade agriculture teacher put a poster above the chalkboard with a different slogan each month. The slogan that made a real impression on me read:
“The people who look ahead seldom fall behind”.
My first teaching position at a university as a contract instructor paid $6000 for the academic year which wasn’t a good salary even back then in 1965. I decided that if I was going to work for the university was going to work for me. I signed up for year long statistics classes for credit with a senior faculty. The next year I took a year of probability theory with this professor. The summer before I went back to school for the next degree, the professor I had had for the classes had a research grant and I taught the classes I had taken with him. When I went back for my next degree, the work I had done cut a year off the required coursework. I was offered a position where I had been teaching which I accepted. This was in 1971.
In a mathematics department faculty meeting, the problem of hiring computer science faculty was discussed. Computer scientists were making three times the salary that my institution could offer. I said that if we couldn’t hire computer science faculty, we should “grow our own”. When my colleagues laughed at my suggestion, I signed of for computer courses at another institution 50 miles away. I taught a full load of courses at my home university and drove two evenings a week to the other university. I thought about the poster above the chalkboard in my 7th grade agriculture class: “Those people that look ahead seldom fall behind”.
If I was an auto mechanic today, I would learn everything I could about hybrid vehicles and EVs. I think that is the future.
In the classes I taught before I retired, I told my students that the best investment they could make was in themselves. Look ahead and you won’t fall behind.
The Automotive programs offered when I was in High School in the early 90’s are still offered, with the option to earn credits for the program at the local community college if you’re looking to go that route.
The vocational skills center that’s shared between 11 school districts also offers a range of technical programs that give you dual credit. including Automotive Technology. Only have to pay a program fee which for last year was around $10 according to what I saw. You can buy your own set of tools to keep there but it’s not required until you get to the Community college program.
Some schools and districts seem to do a better job of maintaining the blue collar programs. The high school my son attends no longer has an automotive class.
When I was in high school in the 80’s, we had auto, wood, metal, electrical, and printshop. I was 16 years old and learned how to etch plates and run an offset press. I don’t think “industrial arts” have that same presence anymore.
It’s not just automotive that’s suffering these days. I have a friend in a municipal utility. He can’t hire linemen, despite a starting wage of $40 and all the overtime you want. No one wants to climb that pole and fix a transform in a rainstorm.