The state of the skilled trades in the USA, including the Auto Mechanic industry, has a familiar ring: Shortage! Since we spoke about this nearly a year ago, nothing much has changed, mainly due to lack of applicants. We can only assume, and recognize, that “college” is still being pumped into our young people as the only option. How long do we tell our kids this lie, all while more young people go into deeper debt? Furthermore, the shortage in the trades industries continues to get no attention.
The Techforce Foundation demand report identifies the need for more than 75,900 new entrants. This is an annual number shortage expected from 2016 to 2026. Furthermore, in 2014 the Bureau of Labor and Statistics underestimated the need at just over 20,000. Keep in mind, this is the number for only New Entrant Automotive Demand. These shortages occur in the autobody and diesel fields as well.
Turning the Tides
Tidewater Community College is turning the tide with this shortage. Killing two birds with one stone, this community is giving their inmates a second chance at a career. TCC in conjunction with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and Priority Automotive created the Priority Inmate Technician Training Program. Inmates within six months of release go to class two days each week, then work three days each week at a dealership. They learn valuable skills and they’re able to continue studies through TCC once they’re released.
We need more programs like this, which is a win-win for the industry and the community. Can you imagine if we poured life, love, and skills into inmates rather than writing them off? All the while, we close the gap in the auto mechanic industry shortage.
Previous Auto Mechanic Industry Update 2018
Skilled Talent Shortage – Manpower Group
In the 2018 Manpower Shortage Update, the findings show that Skilled Trades labor is the toughest to fill. These trades include, but are not limited to, mechanics, welders, and electricians. This has remained the toughest gap to fill for the past 10 years.
Twenty-six percent of employers say that a sheer lack of applicants is the main reason for the shortage. Another 21% state the lack of experience in candidates is a top priority. The most glaring is that 56% of employers say that applicants lack communication skills, which is the most valued human strengths. Also, collaboration and problem-solving follow as most-lacking traits.
Forbes listed the top 20 jobs post-college graduation. The top 3 of these were Sales Associate ($38K), Research Assistant ($28K), and Teaching Assistant ($20K). Unless you have the skills for being a software or web developer, don’t expect to make more than $60K/year, fresh out of college.
The College Ripoff
Value Penguin reported on the total annual cost of college in the USA. Public colleges have an average total cost of $25,000 In-State, while Out-Of-State the cost rises to $41,000. Private Colleges tip the scales north of $50,000. Assuming a 4-year degree, college graduates could be in the red by $200,000. Using the average pay in the paragraph above, that ROI (Return on Investment) takes way too long.
With entry-level positions in the trades starting at $25,000, this is a much easier pill to swallow. Trade or Vocational schools costs hundreds or in the low-thousands. More experienced workers can make more than $100,000. That’s not fuzzy math.
Conclusion and Hopes
Closing the shortage gap on the Auto Mechanic industry should be an easy fix, but that’s expecting common sense in play. Making an honest wage that will pay the bills is not out of reach either. According to Payscale.com, a new mechanic can expect to make $36K at CarMax, Inc. Entry-Level Auto Mechanics will also find great pay at AutoNation, Inc. ($32K), and Mercedez Benz ($29K). Tapping into specialty and management roles at dealerships can also get you past the six-figure mark.
While college tuition continues to rise and pre-requisites for college follow the same pattern, high-paying jobs as a skilled worker should be a breath of fresh air. However, Hollywood and the Education System (as a whole) keep pushing that old mindset that you’re a loser if you’re not going to college. Skilled Trades are not for everyone, but nor is college. Let’s get behind our youth and teach them to work with their hands. Even better, teach them to be contributors to society and not just consumers.