Keep Them in the Industry: Mentor, Train, CommunicatePosted 10/8/2007
By Rodney W. Bolton
I have been teaching high school students and preparing them for the collision repair industry for about 17 years. I have seen many changes in our industry, but one thing that hasn't changed is the need for quality technicians. (I'm writing about the collision repair industry, but the same can be said about the mechanical service field. The automotive service industry as a whole is experiencing a worker shortage, and the shortage is affecting all of us.)
You may think it's bad now, but it is only going to get worse. The main reason is that the majority of schools are evaluated and judged by how many students go to college so there is a big push for all students to take college preparatory courses. This means that in some jurisdictions, there is no room in their schedule to go to a technical school. Not only that, but you have parents believing their son or daughter is going to go to college and become a doctor, lawyer or some other high-paying professional. They don't realize that some technicians out there are making more than some doctors and lawyers and working fewer hours.
What do we do about that? I have asked several shops around the Baltimore metropolitan area how they manage to keep students from running to the shop next door or, worse yet, leaving the industry altogether.
One of the most important aspects is to keep an open line of communication between the manager and the apprentice. The shops that are most successful at retaining young employees are ones that pair the apprentice with someone who is people oriented ... someone who will train the apprentice and help him or her transition into the work force. They need to feel like they have someone on their side they can go to if they have a problem in the shop. If an apprentice doesn't feel appreciated, he or she won't stay.
Another big issue is safety. Students are taught the best safety practices in the classroom, but some shops do not offer them this type of protection when they enter the work force. Students look at this as a potential health risk when considering a long-term career. They mention it to their parents, and their parents tell them to find another job. Yes, some kids still talk to their parents, and we have to consider the feedback they receive from them.
If we take the approach that we want to develop the apprentice into a future technician, it will be necessary to take all of these things into consideration. Treat the apprentice as if he or she were your son or daughter. Would you want them to be treated negatively? Remember, our work force needs quality-oriented technicians desperately. And if we are going to spend time and money training them, let's try to work in a positive way to keep them in our industry. They shouldn't have to "pay their dues." They get into the business to become a future technician. Let's try to keep them there.
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
EPA Releases New Auto Refinishing Regulation |
Wage-Hour Standards in the Auto Repair Industry, Part 3 |
Passing Your Shop to the Next Generation |
CARS Show Section |
NACE Show Section |
Managing Results by the Numbers |
Guest Editorial |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
News Briefs |
Taking the Hill |
Around ASA |
Shop Profile |
Net Worth |
Stat Corner |
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service Association®. All rights reserved.