The United States is currently seeing a shortage in car repair technicians.
In fact, according to Auto Service World, a study by TechForce Foundation found that the country will be short about 642,000 automotive, diesel, and collision technicians by 2024 if current trends keep going. The report was released last fall, but it’s still a problem with car repair this year.
The car repair shortage is hitting certain areas hard
Reports around the country indicate that the shortage is still going on and affecting local areas.
The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette recently reported that Seattle, Washington is one area being hit hard with the shortage.
According to the report, even though demand for repairs and car maintenance is making a comeback after the pandemic, garages are so short-staffed that they often have to delay work or send customers elsewhere. This is reportedly taking place even though employers are offering signing bonuses and six-figure salaries for experienced candidates.
In fact, this past July, job postings for Seattle-area vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics were nearly double the supply of unemployed mechanics—according to the state Employment Security Department.
What is causing the shortage?
According to the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, some garage owners are blaming the shortage on $300-a-week federal pandemic unemployment benefit. This benefit was added to the regular state jobless benefits in response to COVID-19 layoffs.
But those benefits expired Sept. 4, and industry experts are reportedly saying there was a shortage of automotive specialists even before the pandemic.
The cause of the problem could also vary by state and area. In Seattle, for instance, there may be larger factors driving the shortage, such as the city’s expensive housing market. There’s also a simple, long-standing explanation—fewer people want to work on cars.
According to WorkingNation, the workforce actually started shrinking about 15 years ago—which is when high schools began eliminating trade-type classes like auto shop because of funding limitations.
The car repair industry is changing
Cars have become more computerized in recent years, and the technology continues to evolve. As a result, car mechanics now need to possess technical know-how, have superior problem-solving skills, and have the ability to analyze data.
As the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reports, today’s students who have an aptitude for current automotive technology tend to choose engineering or programming jobs over car repair, which is still seen as a low-status job.
It seems that some schools are increasing recruiting efforts to attract more students to the car repair industry.
According to Ksla News 12, Texarkana College, a community college in Texas that offers an automotive repair program, recently announced a partnership with Ford and Toyota. The carmakers donated six vehicles that are equipped with the latest technology that instructors can use to train students along with an industry-specific training curriculum.
According to the report, John Tostanoski, a technician training and recruiting specialist at Ford, said that American dealerships will need nearly 100,000 technicians every year for the next 10 years to meet the exceeding demand—and that doesn’t even include those who will retire.
Future of the car repair job market
Despite current trends, there may be hope for the car repair industry.
According to Auto Service World, recent surveys show an increased interest in transportation technology work— among younger students and older workers looking to change careers.
In addition, surveys of high school students show that more than half are open to something other than a traditional four-year degree.