A coalition of auto makers and retailers is joining with military and student organizations to promote auto repair as a career for young technicians.
At a time when the shortfall of auto technicians has reached epidemic proportions-35,000 annually through 2010, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-something must be done to attract qualified young people to the profession. That was the message of Thomas McGurn, vice chairman of the coalition Automotive Retailing Today (ART) and vice president of BMW of North America L.L.C., during a Feb. 18 press conference in Washington.
The main problem, he noted, is that most young people and their counselors don't think of auto technicians as having a profession.
``We need to use the word `technician' and get rid of the old word that begins with an `M,''' he said, referring to ``mechanic.''
ART has an existing tie with Automotive Youth Education Programs, a Web site devoted to promoting auto technical training programs and apprenticeship programs for high school students interested in auto repair. With two new programs, the coalition is broadening its outreach to young technicians.
The first program, ``Hire the Heroes,'' links auto dealers with young people just leaving the Armed Forces. It serves the dual purpose of giving auto dealers access to the pool of technical talent just exiting the service and providing veterans with a technically rewarding, well-paying transition to civilian life, according to ART.
``Many veterans have technical skills and training ideal for transitioning into the auto repair field, and their training can translate into technical certification,'' Mr. McGurn said.
The second program is a Web site, www.autojobstoday.org, which provides students, military personnel and others with information about training requirements and career paths in auto repair. According to ART, the site is a clearinghouse for information about training programs, jobs and salaries.
Among other things, the site provides links to job sources, including state and local car dealer associations, auto manufacturers and military and Department of Labor job banks.
The military Web sites contain links in which any interested employer-including independent auto repair shops-may list their job openings, said Lt. Col. Robert Homan, U.S. Marine Corps, and Chief Warrant Officer Kurt Schultz, U.S. Army.