One of the common complaints that I hear from shops in our communication is regarding the lack of young Mechanics and/or Technicians entering the workforce. We hear this from every sector we work with…car repair, truck repair, machinery repair, etc. While this has always been somewhat of a concern, the advancements of technology are making repair shops even more nervous about what the future holds. It's why the GARAGE Plan is so important and why the second "G" in garage is to target getting involved at a local level.
Those of you that follow this closely are starting to understand that this isn't a situation that's going to get better. The work is getting more technologically advanced, fewer people are entering the job market and the general perception to young people is that they don't want to do dirty and physically demanding work. Would you want to if the perception was that you were going to get paid less and the work is physically more demanding? If you're being honest, and you've got the skillset that translates into options, I feel like you're going to go toward the physically easier, higher paying job…at least I would anyway.
That leads us back to where we started with the first paragraph. Shops are constantly struggling to find Techs and don't understand (or want to understand) the core of the issue. To me, it's a perception issue as much as it is a work issue. The only way that this is going to change is if shops get more involved with younger people and show them how cool our industry is.
I visited a Dealership customer of ours earlier this month and was extremely pleased to see how proactive they were with Technician/Mechanic recruitment. They were intentional and it was refreshing. Their proactive approach forced them to be actively involved with their local trade schools, High Schools and even middle schools.
Now, this was a high end dealership that doesn't mess around. I'm not sure that I saw oil dry anywhere in the shop, the floors were tiled, they provided tool boxes for each Technician with their name "in lights" in their work station. They made their Techs feel like rock stars. On top of that, they pay at the top of the market and truly treat their Technicians well. Far too many shops say that Techs are their priority but this shop truly proved it.
Getting back to the "Getting Involved" piece…this foundation that the Dealership developed allowed them a really cool way to get involved. They work with schools to schedule tours through their shop, which I have to think changes the light in which they see "Mechanics". Students are exposed to a showroom style shop that you can't help but be impressed with. It looked more like a car laboratory than a dealership shop. On top of that, they are active in advisory committee meetings and have a presence in the school. To put it simply, they care.
And when I say they care, they aren't just saying it as a way to get more talent in the doors at their shop…they care about them as people. They care about their personal development. They are interested in understanding which career path a Tech wants to pursue and help put a plan together to help them get there. They are intentionally developing a culture that cares about Technicians.
When a shop truly cares about their people, it makes getting involved so much easier because you're selling something that you truly believe in. When your shop is taken care of and you're proud of your business, you have more confidence in running a group of students through your business.
At the end of the day, getting involved is about perception as much as anything. Shops must find a way to identify opportunities to get involved and then put together a strategy to capitalize on it. You need to show them that just because you're heading into a shop doesn't mean that you have to stay there forever. You can show them a path that includes a roadmap of their career and how important it is to get the basic foundation of knowledge in order to translate that into other opportunities, if they so desire. You can show them how much the industry is changing and how cool the future looks.
If you're passionate about the industry and about making your business better, there is no better way than to get involved as soon as you possibly can. Schedule a time to go meet with a Guidance Councilor at your local High School or contact the lead instructor for your program at a local trade school. Do whatever you can to get in front of young people because they are the future of this business and we all need them.
If you would like any suggestions on how to get involved, feel free to reach out. We love to help in any way that we can! Let's work together to drive a paradigm shift amongst young people that has been needed for a long time.