June 26, 2018—TechForce Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on championing and aiding aspiring transportation technicians has released a new report —“Transportation Technician Supply Report”—that reveals the growing severity of the vehicle technician supply shortage.
Based on an analysis of National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) 2011-2016 data, TechForce found that postsecondary supply of new entrant vehicle technicians has not kept up with the spike in demand.
The report reveals that auto tech postsecondary completions have been declining since 2013. The supply of postsecondary auto graduates decreased by 1,829 completions in 2016 from 2012. There were an estimated 38,829 graduates for 2016 in contrast to the projected Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) new entrant demand of 75,900. Private sector institutions have experienced the greatest decline while public two-year institutions (primarily community colleges) have increased substantially.
The supply of collision technicians has been steadily declining over the past six years. Conversely, total postsecondary completions for diesel programs have increased over the same period. The projected BLS new entrant demand for diesel technicians is 28,300 annually against a supply of 11,966 in 2016. For the collision market, the projected BLS annual new entrant demand is 17,200 technicians compared to supply of 5,791 completions in 2016.
Doug Young, co-author of the report and managing director of Wilcap L.L.C, said, “Changing perceptions will require building a pipeline into the industry—before parents and students have committed to ‘college for all,’ before students have decided that they aren’t interested in STEM subjects in high school, and before the old perceptions eliminate any interest among parents and career counselors in learning more about the opportunities in the transportation technician occupations.”
Greg Settle, the other co-author of the report and TechForce’s director of national initiatives, said, “With only a small percentage of students interested in going into a skilled trade versus seeking a college degree, the competition among all the skilled trades for those students is fierce. If you look at auto technicians, they can make a very solid, middle-class income. However, starting wages for auto technicians are among the lowest across the skilled trades, and that is often what young and men and women will focus on when making a career decision. Add to that the fact that entry-level technicians are expected to arrive at their first job with their own tools and it does not make the career very attractive, compared with other choices.”