In all of my travels around the distribution market, as well as in the collision and mechanical repair spaces, there seems to be no bigger challenge than the lack of skilled workers. Whatever the skill sets you’re looking for, it seems that appropriate candidates are scarce.
Actually, this started to be a problem more than a decade ago. Many companies, especially the OEs, responded with programs to provide ways for people to get into the automotive space. I remember launching the ASSET program at Ford, and others had similar initiatives. The issue sort of died down and then the crunch years hit. Many dealerships closed, and it took a while for those employees to be absorbed into the workplace. This actually masked the problem for a few more years.
Now, here we are in an almost crisis-mode. How can this be? Well, as much as I hate to write these words, the younger generation doesn’t find this industry an interesting or fulfilling place to be. Wait, what? But it is! So … we not only have a shortage issue, we have an image one as well.
Please do not sit back and think this will not affect you or your company. I don’t care what space you occupy in this industry, it will affect you. From supplier to repairer and everyone in between, we all need workers.
There are more than 250 million vehicles out on the roads today driving more than 3 trillion miles per year. They crash, break and need to be maintained. We must get people interested in this industry. There are good jobs waiting here both now and at an ever-increasing rate into the future.
One of the tools we have to use is the Auto Care Association website called autocarecareers.org. This site does an excellent job of showing all the positives of working in our industry. It also shows different opportunities in the space for people to research and become interested in. It even allows visitors to search and post for jobs and job openings. It’s truly a one-stop place to learn about our industry and search for jobs within it.
Each and every one of us has the responsibility to keep this industry going. Whenever you see new people in it or enter into discussions about our industry, talk it up. When you see a YANG member, don’t be afraid to talk shop – they need mentors just like we all did. It’s been pretty good for all of us, and our country needs to stay mobile. By the way, if you don’t know what YANG is, find out!