As colleges and universities across the U.S. open for the fall semester, the time seems appropriate to examine the prospects of students cashing in their education for a rewarding career.
Enter the Auto Care Association (ACA).
Over the last two years, the advocacy and educational group has made it a mission to generate interest in the automotive aftermarket industry. This fall, the group plans to visit six more college career fairs in an attempt to spread the gospel of the industry: It's a great employer with myriad opportunities.
This editorial appeared in the Aug. 14 print edition of Tire Business.
Most people, the ACA said, consider only one aspect of the auto care industry — the service person who dives under the hood to diagnose and fix problems, getting vehicles back on the road.
"But there is this whole other side, on the business side from marketing, advertising, finance, sales, that people just completely overlook," said Katy McQuiston, manager, job and career development, for the ACA.
"And when you tell people we are the second largest employer in the United States, they're shocked."
The numbers are staggering. The ACA said the auto care industry employs 4.3 million in the U.S. alone, at more than half a million businesses involved in manufacturing, distributing, selling and installing vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment and supplies.
That number also includes businesses much like your own, with employees who roll up their sleeves and get your customers' cars back in working order.
The program benefits the industry greatly: Not only does it raise awareness at the post-secondary level of opportunities available today or in the future, but it also helps companies attract quality candidates for positions that often can be difficult to fill.
Ms. McQuiston said students who have degrees in diverse areas such as accounting, marketing, finance, engineering, technology and graphic design can thrive in the industry.
"The depth and breadth of education in this industry is so varied," she said.
It is becoming more common for colleges to require students to complete an internship in order to graduate. Automotive aftermarket firms that offer internships can benefit immensely from the ACA's presence on college campuses, reaching potential applicants who otherwise might not know of the opportunity.
The ACA isn't just targeting college students; it also has become a resource for companies seeking experienced applicants.
The group has developed a website (AutoCareCareers.org) that not only lists job openings and internships across the industry, but also offers tips for companies on recruiting new employees, particularly young, social-media-savvy Millennials.
The automotive care industry, like many others, needs to recruit and retain new talent with fresh ideas in order to stay relevant for years to come. The ACA is doing its part to make that happen.