A nonprofit foundation is working to build the bench of young, qualified automotive technicians for the industry.
TechForce Foundation has created FutureTech Success, a program with three purposes, says Greg Settle, the foundation's director of national initiatives:
- marketing and image: There's a need to squash the grease-monkey stereotypes associated with jobs in the industry, not just when it comes to attracting young students, Settle says. It's just as important to sway those students' parents. "We've found parents are the No. 1 reason or driver of a kid's career."
Settle also believes it's important to hook students before they're in high school. "We really feel it's a mistake to wait until high school."
- build after-school opportunities: The foundation has launched its first partnership with the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Students are participating in a 12-week program learning how to create a gear package with three gears. They're creating and designing, but also troubleshooting and building prototypes.
The foundation also is looking to inner-city schools where auto programs could be created or rebuilt, plus partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs. Each program has the same goal: "we're trying to generate interest in kids," Settle says.
- industry collaboration: "We don't have the resources to solve this ourselves," Settle says. So the goal instead is to pull in resources and information from across the industry. Some companies might have tools on how to create good mentor relationships. Others might have established best practices for apprenticeships. The goal is to collect that information and build a platform that all parties could use, with the end result being a more robust workforce of young employees.
TechForce created a website — www.futuretechsuccess.org — that contains the pertinent information for students to ascertain their interest and aptitude for a technical career.
Another feature on the site is the bank of videos featuring successful professionals sharing their technical experiences.
The need for action was confirmed in a report Settle wrote alongside Doug Young, managing director of the strategy consulting company Wilcap LLC.
TheTransportation Technician New Entrant Demand report revealed that new Bureau of Labor Statistics’ average annual new entrant demand over the next 10years is projected to be 75,900 auto technicians, 28,300 diesel techs and 17,200 collision techs, which is more than triple previous estimates.
“Not only is there a tech shortage, it’s much worse than we thought,” Settle says. “That being the case, the opportunities abound in this industry.”
For more information, visit www.techforcefoundation.org.