Technician shortage affects many industries; aftermarket must do its part

Dec. 4, 2013
Technician shortage demands a national response; aftermarket organizations can be advocates.

Back in October, VehicleServicePros presented an “Industry Insights” video interview in which Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on’s president and CEO, explained what his company is doing to correct the technician shortage and he urged other aftermarket companies to do the same thing. Pinchuk said the technician shortage demands a national response, similar to President Kennedy’s calling for more science education in the early 1960s that ultimately led to a moon landing. 

The aftermarket isn’t the only sector of the automotive industry affected by the technician shortage.

In November, Harbour Results Inc. released an alarming report on the diminishing supply of toolmakers involved in the manufacture of new vehicles. The report indicates the shortage of tools needed to make cars will undermine the auto industry’s recovery. The technician shortage is not the only cause of this declining tooling capacity, but it is a critical one, the report notes. This report has gained a lot of attention in the automotive trade press. 

The technician shortage is part of a larger problem in the country known as the “skills gap.” Back in June, we reported the U.S. Department of Labor projects there will be more than 1.2 million jobs in the collision, automotive, motorcycle and marine industries in the next five years, and there will be a lack of qualified automotive and diesel technicians.

Snap-on’s Nick Pinchuk notes that his company has partnered with Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis. to support 17 training certifications. While he offers this as an example what companies can do to address the technician shortage, Pinchuk notes that a larger partnership is needed between government and industry.

Like other industry observers, Pinchuk recognizes that technician training not only benefits the automotive industry; it also offers good futures to young people who may not have the resources to attend a four-year college, and it also makes a stronger economic future for the country.

The message needs to gain traction in all industries affected by the technician shortage. Aftermarket organizations should join other industry associations and government agencies to support a national campaign to promote technician training.

Organizations such as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the Automotive Service Association and others can provide curriculum guidance to educational institutions.

Organizations also exist for individuals and companies interested in doing their part to address the problem, such as Mike Rowe's Profoundly Disconnected, SkillsUSA and the Association for Career & Technical Education.

The skills gap is real, and it challenges the entire automotive industry, including the aftermarket.

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