Technician Shortage Worse Than Previously Thought
Photo: Steven Martinez
In a new report, the TechForce Foundation is predicting that demand for new vehicle technicians from 2016 to 2026 will be three times higher than was previously projected for the 2014 to 2024 period.
The TechForce Foundation, a nonprofit that supports technical education, has teleased its Transportation Technician New Entrant Demand report, which reveals the severity of the technician shortage.
Based on analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the report focuses on technicians that are joining the field, rather than on experienced technicians who move around but don’t add to the overall trained workforce.
“BLS had underestimated the replacement component of demand-- replacing existing technicians who have retired, been promoted, or decided to find a new career,” said Greg Settle, one of the co-authors of the report and TechForce's director of national initiatives. “That methodological problem has been rectified with the new projections just issued by BLS for the 2016-2026 period.”
Previously, BLS projections showed an average annual new entrant demand of 23,720 auto technicians for the 2014-2024 period. TechForce’s report has revised that number to show demand for 75,900 for the 2016-2026 decade. The demand for collision and diesel technicians is similar. The newly projected BLS average annual new entrant demand of 28,300 diesel technicians far exceeds the previously projected demand of 7,690.
The tech shortage has been exacerbated by a variety of conditions, including a growing economy, increased demand since the 2008 recession, and increased vehicle complexity, according to Settle. The authors of the report say that to alleviate the shortage, the industry needs to focus on recruiting younger people to the field and suggest changing the “grease monkey” image of the career.
“In order to solve the tech shortage, the industry needs to pool its resources and create and disseminate consistent public messaging highlighting the many and varied opportunities of a tech career,” said Jennifer Maher, CEO and executive director of TechForce. “Right now, the industry is suffering from inadequate, fragmented financing for the cause. It’s not enough for us to talk among ourselves, we have to pull together as an industry to first, resolve it, and then to stay ahead of it so we never wind up in this position again.”