By Rachael J. Mercer
Mark Main, regional training instructor for BASF Corp., presented a course Wednesday titled "Technician Education and Recruiting." This 90-minute Congress session focused on providing information for recruiting technicians into the collision repair industry, and presented statistics about the type of person working in the automotive profession today.
Most technicians surveyed indicated they entered the automotive business because of an interest in and love for vehicles. A fairly equal number of respondents indicated entering the automotive industry because of family, just needing a job or because they were keeping their options open.
These same respondents indicated their educational training. Thirty-six percent completed high school, while 29 percent reported having completed trade school or CATE. Fourteen percent reported having a college degree. While the average age of an automotive technician is 37.8 years, nearly half (49 percent) reported having spent less than 10 years in the automotive industry. Seventeen percent reported spending 11 to 15 years in the industry and 34 percent have spent sixteen or more years in the automotive industry.
"One in 10 jobs in the United States is automotive-related," said Main. "This presents so many opportunities for industry workers to shape the image of the automotive industry, and for those involved in the industry to help attract quality workers to the industry as well."
Main told attendees that while automotive technicians are perceived as being low-skilled, the reality is that most automotive technicians are highly professional and technologically advanced. In addition, he said most automotive shops are well-managed and are very image sensitive due to the negative perception.
According to Main, many changes are affecting the industry currently that will impact those new individuals who decide to enter the automotive business. He discussed VOC legislation, electronic/IS technology and new equipment as some of the changes affecting automotive businesses.
Changes such as the new legislation, safer products and safer technology will help to attract qualified persons to the automotive industry, Main said. As the younger generation enters the workforce, they bring with them a fresh outlook on technology. "They aren't intimidated by computers and learning how to use new programs," said Main. In addition, these qualified young workers will likely be attracted by safer product lines, which remove the stigma that automotive work is an "unhealthy" business in which to serve.
Main examined several positions within the automotive industry and discussed their pay scales to start as well as their opportunities for advancement and promotion. He mentioned that income potential is just one recruiting tool for businesses seeking a new generation of talent.
Main encouraged attendees to use recruiting tools such as career and apprentice programs to harness the talent offered by the next generation. He suggested event recruiting-urging automotive managers to seek out new workers at events such as car shows, trade shows and other automotive events. Lastly, Main discussed ways in which current employees can recruit new workers-reminding managers that word-of-mouth from happy employees is often the best way new workers will be attracted into the automotive profession.