Across the United States, automotive, diesel and collision companies struggle to find skilled workers to fill open positions. The American Transportation Research Institute (ARTI) named the ongoing diesel technician shortage as one of the top ten industry concerns in 2022. The lack of skilled workers presents a significant challenge to an industry intending to grow and scale. Auto Technician Shortfall Solutions
In addition to the labor shortage, the speed at which technology is evolving and changing also poses severe challenges to automotive-adjacent industries. Advanced and continuous training is a necessity for technicians working in repair and maintenance. In turn, those skills affect the efficiency of businesses that rely on them. The quality of training determines how long repairs will take and how effective they are, which is essential for keeping fleets on the road and making the national logistics chain run.
Combine those issues with economic trends and we have a sort of perfect storm. Because of the shortage of new cars and trucks for purchase, both individuals and businesses are holding onto vehicles longer, increasing the need for repairs and maintenance as the vehicles age. And ongoing supply chain issues also mean fewer parts are available, driving up costs. In short: Parts are scarce and expensive. Repairs are vital yet costly. Qualified technicians are few. Training programs are rare.
The Role Of Trade Schools
Four-year colleges are what most people think of when it comes to higher education. They are the glamorous, popular route toward careers in our country. However, they do little if anything to address the need for trained, skilled technical workers—in automotive and other industries. Trade schools have quietly stepped in to fill this need, providing students with educational opportunities that also lead to successful, lifelong careers.
WyoTech, where I serve as president, works with high schools and high school guidance counselors to generate awareness of the trade school path, to increase the number of trade-related programs in high schools and to change the current narrative about higher education in the United States.
We strive to inform both students and employers about what a trade school teaches, in addition to the technical skills that industry demands. The best trade schools hold their students to a high standard through a code of professionalism. Students fulfill mandatory attendance obligations and follow all rules and regulations, just as employers will require once they join the workforce. Employers know that graduates from rigorous trade schools will show up for work when expected and do what is expected. Simply put, trade schools build responsibility and a powerful work ethic in their students—as well as excitement to go into the work force and demonstrate their skills.
The Role Of Employers
But trade schools are only part of the solution. Employers must create mentorship programs that will teach and lead the student, now technician, into wanting to be an active part of their own success. This will help create and develop a roadmap for their future, develop their skills and make them even more valuable to their employers.
Leading trade schools see the gains that come when these companies are willing to make an investment. At Wyotech, we offer career fairs every quarter. Events typically draw 70-plus employers to campus with hundreds of staff ready to recruit. They interview students and even make job offers at the fair itself. They also work with us to provide students with training aids, tools, equipment and even vehicles for hands-on, real-world training. This partnership creates a pipeline that leads students to fill desired jobs with these companies after graduation.
Auto Technician Shortfall Solutions
Trade schools provide training and skills. Including inspiration, instilling students with the values of grit and perseverance to succeed. The system works, but it can work even better. Do even more to help automotive industries and boost the economy. If more high schools and employers invest in trade schools the way we’re seeing in Wyoming.
Jim Mathis, President, WyoTech
Auto Technician Shortfall Solutions