Hiring qualified employees for auto technician jobs is challenging for dealerships across the country. Unemployment, which was already at a record low, recently dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest rate in 50 years. This tight labor market, coupled with limited interest in technician careers and a rapidly retiring workforce is leading to a shortage of qualified applicants to auto technician jobs.
Many job seekers have the misconception that auto technician jobs simply involve “wrench turning” tasks and don’t offer much room for career growth. But the automotive industry has evolved significantly in recent years – with modern technology in today’s vehicles, auto technician jobs share a lot of similarities with computer engineering roles. Working as a technician also offers young job seekers significant earning potential without needing to complete an advanced.
You already know the great opportunity auto technician jobs present to job seekers. So what can your team do to encourage motivated job seekers to apply to your open roles? We’ve outlined a few ways your team can think outside the box to engage top talent.
1. Engage students early
Many dealerships have relationships with local trade schools, technical schools and community colleges, but an even more effective way to drive interest in auto technician jobs can be reaching students even earlier. For example, if a local middle school hosts a career day, your dealership can send some of your most successful technicians – or even a service manager – to share what they like most about working as an auto technician. Your employees can also show students how a simple repair can be made using a computer, to excite students about the technological side of the role.
To further engage middle school students, your team can also provide handouts for these students to share with their parents outlining the career path and earning potential auto technician jobs present – without the cost of a four-year degree. This will help parents understand the full scope of auto technician jobs – and might even lead to parents encouraging their children to consider dealership careers.
Once you get younger students interested in auto technician jobs, you can continue boosting this interest by partnering with local trade schools and similar institutions. If trade schools host career fairs, your team can attend and host informal interviews with motivated students. You can also offer strong students job shadowing or internship opportunities at your dealership, to help them jump start their careers before they even graduate.
2. Get involved with the local community
At Hireology’s recent Elevate conference, the only people strategy summit for retail automotive, newly-appointed AutoNation CEO and President, Cheryl Miller, outlined the importance of dealerships getting involved with the local community. Miller outlined the dealership group’s Drive Pink Initiative, which has raised more than $20 million for cancer research.
AutoNation is the largest dealership group in the U.S., so your team might not have resources for an initiative like Drive Pink, but any way you can help the local community will help your dealership stand out to members of the community – including job seekers. Your involvement can be as simple as sponsoring a local sports team or doing a toy drive around the holidays. By putting your dealership’s name out in the community in a positive way, job seekers will remember your contributions when they’re looking for new roles.
3. Provide employees with tools
The costs of tools for auto technician jobs add up quickly, with some advanced technicians spending as much as $50,000 on tools over the course of their careers – as they move up the career ladder and automotive technology continues to evolve. These costs alone might be enough to turn away qualified, technically-savvy job seekers from your auto technician jobs.
To get ahead in today’s competitive hiring market, one step your dealership can take is providing promising entry-level employees with the tools they need to succeed – both from a physical tool perspective and a training perspective – and continuing to provide assistance throughout their careers at your dealership.
To ensure your team isn’t providing tools to just anyone, you can outline specific requirements for this incentive – such as completing a specific number of training hours. You can also require employees to return the tools if they choose to leave your dealership. Doing so will help you keep employees engaged and on your team for the long-haul, as they’ll feel valued by your investment in their careers and less likely to want to move to another dealership that doesn’t provide tools.
Competition for qualified auto technicians shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s important for your dealership to put extra steps in place to attract top talent. For additional tips on building your best service department team, read our resource, “5 Tools to Attract and Hire Qualified Fixed Ops Staff.”