Five Facts About the Automotive Aftermarket Workforce and Hiring Technicians

Monday, August 20, 2018

By Courtney Hammer, Director, Job and Career Development, Auto Care Association

The U.S. auto care industry, comprised of 535,508 businesses which form a coast-to-coast network of independent manufacturers, distributors, repair shops, marketers, and retailers small and large, is constantly changing. With jobs available both under the hood and in the office, companies are always in search of talented and energetic individuals to join their businesses – but there are some potential challenges.

As the world evolves, so too does our workforce. Employees who have been in the industry for decades are in the processes of retiring, and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain top talent. With a changing landscape of job seekers, it can be challenging to reach potential new applicants, especially those in the tech-savvy millennial generation. This is one of the many reasons why AAPEX and the Auto Care Association provide resources to help our industry promote, find and retain these critical roles to keep our economy thriving. Here are five facts on today’s automotive aftermarket workforce you need to know:

• The 21st century has seen drastic changes in the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000), will make up approximately 64% of the labor force by 2020.

• We know from research that these job seekers are searching for jobs differently than they have in the past. 73% of 18 to 34-year olds found their last job through a social media network. Almost half of all millennials use their mobile phone to search for a job. These changes mean that we as an industry must change the way we think about recruitment.

• The way in which recruiters are doing their jobs is also changing drastically. Social recruiting is the practice of using social media to both recruit and screen candidates. Social recruiting can happen on social media platforms, including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and even Tumblr.

• While some of these concepts may seem completely different than the industry is used to, fundamentally, millennials do not differ much from previous generations. They, too, are looking for a stable job with decent benefits that will allow them to pay off their student loans.

• When millennials job-hunt, there are five primary things they are looking for. These include: What the company specifically does, sells or produces, the company’s work culture, the company’s involvement with causes, the company’s office environment and the company’s HR and diversity awards.

The career opportunities in the auto care industry are vaster than most are familiar with. No matter the skills or background, the incredible diversity of the auto care industry means there is a job for everyone. From the shop floor to the corporate office, careers here offer competitive salaries and growth opportunities. But now, more than ever, we need qualified technicians. Here’s something I overheard at a conference: “Technicians are evolving from the incorrect perception that they are lower-level or jobs for the unsuccessful. Technicians today should be thought of as car ‘doctors’, who are highly-skilled, highly-prized and absolutely critical to keeping these technologically advanced cars safe on the road for consumers.” I couldn’t agree more.

Students graduating from trade schools and vocational high schools are a natural fit for the industry, as they have taken proactive steps to prepare themselves for many of the technical jobs automotive companies are looking to fill. Therefore, outreach to them may be able to focus less on the virtues of the industry, and more on what your company has to offer.

Additionally, demand for qualified technicians is extremely high. According to our Auto Care Factbook 2019, the demand for technicians has grown at a nine-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.2%, but there is an increasing shortage of professional technicians. No wonder we frequently hear that companies are struggling to recruit top talent for the shop floor, and that retaining them is even harder. The good news? Technician average hourly wages are increasing in response, rising 3.1% from last year. To stand out among the tough competition, it is critical to deploy effective recruitment tactics and market yourselves appropriately to the next generation of automotive service employees. Here are a few facts:

• Top mechanics are getting older. According to a study from Carlisle & Company that surveyed 9,000 auto care technicians, the average age for an industry professional is 41.

• The nation’s demand for auto mechanics is expected to grow around 7% from 2016 to 2026. However, major industry leaders worry whether there will be enough younger workers in a few years as a wave of midcareer mechanics hit retirement age.

We know that auto technicians are the hardworking men and women that keep Americans and the global population driving. The industry as a whole is facing this challenge of professionals retiring and needing to inspire a new workforce. This is why AAPEXedu has built in an abundance of sessions designed to keep shop technicians and their owners ahead of the curve:

Automotive Career Pathways: The Road to Great Technicians will help identify career paths for current and future technicians and how students, parents, instructors and shop owners all play a role in career development.

Start/Stop Technology will have a training in Mobility Garage

The Wheel of Fortune explores how to balance resources and customer requests to achieve desired results at repair facilities

Why Should I Work for You? is designed to give you the tools to achieve a competitive advantage when recruiting talent

Throttle by Wire or VVT training in Mobility Garage

Inside the Business of Repair: Helping Them Succeed will share how shops operate and the hurdles that are coming

Understanding EV Battery Pack Structure training in Mobility Garage

ADAS – Steering and Suspension training in Mobility Garage

The Four Cornerstones of Service Operations is designed to help shops keep focus in the midst of the hundreds of things they do on a daily basis

Many more sessions are listed on – add these to your schedule today in the AAPEX app. Also, don’t forget to add Mobility Garage (formerly Mobility Park), now in the Bellini and Titian Ballrooms at the Venetian, and Technology of Tomorrow (formerly the Technology Intersection) in the Venetian Ballroom, as stops on your list to get hands-on experience with the latest vehicle technology. We look forward to seeing you there!