Repairing the Tech Career Pipeline
This article originally appeared on April 13, 2018 in Fixed Ops Business; written by Kelly Beaton.
The auto industry is on the verge of major changes, considering the possible disruption that innovations like autonomous vehicles pose.
And, Jennifer Maher fears the industry might be ill-equipped to take on such challenges. The cold, hard stats seem to back up her beliefs, too: the industry needs nearly 76,000 new technicians in the near future, simply to make up for those that will soon age out of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Our technical schools and community college programs are not putting out anywhere near that number,” noted Maher, the CEO and executive director of the TechForce Foundation. “That’s why the reality of trying to find qualified techs has become such a crisis.”
Spurred by such knowledge, Maher’s employer has partnered with fellow auto industry staple Manheim Auctions on their FutureTech Success initiative; Manheim recently made a $50,000 annual commitment to TechForce in support of the campaign. The companies have paired in an effort to educate Generation Z-aged students, as well as their parents, regarding what a career as an auto technician has to offer, through a multi-pronged initiative that includes speaking at schools, showing educational videos, and the creation of an online hub that pairs potential apprentices with business suitors.
“This is not just throwing money at a problem and thinking it’s going to be fixed in one day,” Maher noted, “but really the understanding that it’s going to take a strategic alliance on the part of lots of people to make a dent here.”
The auto industry has much more to offer potential job-seekers than many realize, according to the leaders of both TechForce and Manheim. They feel many parents simply need to overcome the industry’s negative stereotypes, such as that it leads to low-paying jobs.
It’s “a stereotype that [technicians] don’t make any money, when in fact their earning potential is actually extremely good—better than in some other industries,” said Angie Babin, Manheim’s vice president.
In the midst of modern society’s technological shift, jobs too are shifting, Maher noted. Technical trade workers are in demand, and many of those jobs can be had without a four-year college degree.
The average modern vehicle has approximately 100 million lines of code, meaning they require technicians who are immersed in modern technology. And both TechForce and Manheim feel there are plenty of talented, potential technicians among today’s youth.
Those gifted members of Generation Z simply need to be informed of all that a career in the auto industry has to offer.
They need to hear about the FutureTech Success project and learn of all it has to offer, such as potential internship opportunities, said Maher and Babin.
“I’ve spent years in shops,” noted Babin, “and I’ve never seen technicians’ eyes light up like I do when there’s a mentorship, or an apprenticeship, or training on new equipment, or [when they learn] how to do something they’ve never done before.
“We want to make sure that we wrap our arms around [potential young technicians] and provide them with the true career path and earning potential that we know they can have.”
Kelly Beaton is a staff writer for 10 Missions Media, where he produces content for Ratchet+Wrench, FenderBender and Fixed Ops Business.