There seems to be a disconnect today between the wide-open opportunities in the automotive service field and young people looking for promising and exciting careers.
What else can explain the huge shortage of qualified automotive repair technicians in the U.S. when there's an opportunity to earn as much as $70,000 to $100,000 annually as a master technician?
It's hard to believe students aren't knocking down doors at tire dealerships and other automotive service providers trying to snap up one of these jobs.
But the reality is that in the coming years, tire dealerships and other businesses that rely on auto service for a percentage of their profits are going to continue to compete with each other to find and keep qualified techs. That is, unless they take a proactive stance and begin to do something about it.
Fortunately, there are ways to make a difference.
As the stories on automotive service training in this issue show, there are plenty of scholarships, apprentice programs and educational opportunities available. It's just that many students don't know about them-or have the interest to pursue them.
That's where tire dealers can make an impact. While they can't force young people into an auto service career, they certainly can use their influence in the community to promote the opportunities such an avocation provides.
Why is this important?
A comment in this issue by Jerry Peterson, an auto technology instructor at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Ariz., sheds some light. Today, many young people don't have the fundamental background in auto repair that they did 10 or 20 years ago, he said. The reason is that cars today are too complicated for their parents to work on them, and that's how many in the field today used to learn the fundamentals.
That's also how many ``gear heads'' learned to love working on cars.
You can help schools promote careers in the auto service field by speaking at career days, offering one of your technicians to teach a class at a vocational school and by inviting classes to visit your dealership. What better way to motivate young people about a career possibility than testimonials and examples from those in the profession who are excited about what they do.
With demand for new techs estimated at 35,000 a year through 2010 and only two or three entering the field to replace every 10 techs who are retiring, the field is wide open with opportunity.
Are you excited about the auto service business? Then go out and share that enthusiasm with the young people in your community. Guide them. Mentor them. Steer them in the right direction. You may just inspire one of your future techs.