TechForce Foundation releases 2023 Transportation Technician Supply and Demand Report

Dec. 28, 2023
The report covers projections for the next five years, including the demand for technicians to keep up with the growth in new positions and replacements.

TechForce Foundation released its 2023 Transportation Technician Supply and Demand Report, addressing the demand for new technicians and the reality of the technician supply. 

Demand

The report addresses the projected demand for new entrant technicians. These technicians are defined as being those entering the occupation for the first time, as opposed to experienced technicians who may be coming over from a different employer but don't increase the overall number of technicians available. These technicians can come from postsecondary training programs, high school shop programs, and "off-the-street" with no formal training. 

To the extent that employers are not able to hire all the technicians they seek, the numbers in the report will exceed the total increase in technicians actually reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Automotive Technician

Two sources contribute to the demand for entrant technicians: new growth in the sector, and occupational separations. Occupational separations include both retirements and turnover from those leaving the industry. The demand from occupational separations outpaces the demand from new growth. Between 2023 and 2027, 406,000 positions are projected to be needed due to operational separations, while 60,000 will come from new growth. 

Overall, the total new entrant demand for 2023 is 86,489, and for 2024 it's slightly less at 80,230.

Collision Technician

From 2017 to 2021, the total number of collision technicians employed had been on a steady decline, but that trend was reversed for 2022 with an increase of a little over 0.5 percent.

As with automotive technicians, the demand for new entrant collision technicians will be mostly from occupational separations. Nearly 5,500 unfilled positions from 2022 add to the 2023 demand projections. For 2023, the total new entrant demand is 31, 426, and for 2024 those numbers are lower at 20,517.

Supply

In their report, TechForce notes that, for the first time in 10 years, the number of postsecondary graduates in the automotive, collision, diesel, and aviation sectors has increased year-over-year. 

Postsecondary Automotive Completions

In 2022, automotive completions showed a gain of nearly 5,000 students, an increase of over 17 percent in just one year. Public two-year schools and private, for-profit, two-year schools graduate the highest number of students, with 17,470 students for public and 7,753 students for private. 

Postsecondary Collision Completions

Collision completions have followed a similar pattern to automotive completions, but there was a slight rebound in 2022. With an increase of just over 5 percent, the change isn't as significant as with automotive completions, but it's still a sign that things are looking up. Again, public two-year schools and private, for-profit, two-year schools saw the highest number of students.

Conclusion

According to TechForce, the two most important available measurements for anticipating demand for technicians are the number of technicians employed and the number of postsecondary completions in transportation technical programs. 

Since these two factors aren't something that can be controlled, it's encouraging to see the current trends that are developing. Last year, TechForce listed the number of technicians needed in the next five years at almost one million. Now, that number is down to 795,000. 

To view the full report, visit TechForce Foundation

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