Report Shows Growing Shortage of Vehicle Technicians

Posted on June 28, 2018
The nonprofit TechForce Foundation found that postsecondary supply of new vehicle technicians has not kept up with a spike in demand. File photo courtesy Houston ISD
The nonprofit TechForce Foundation found that postsecondary supply of new vehicle technicians has not kept up with a spike in demand. File photo courtesy Houston ISD

A new report from the nonprofit TechForce Foundation found that the supply shortage of vehicle technicians is increasing in severity.

The Transportation Technician Supply Report, released on Tuesday, is based on an analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data from 2011 to 2016. TechForce found that postsecondary supply of new entrant vehicle technicians has not kept up with a spike in demand.

New entrant technicians are those needed to fill the growth in new positions as well as to replace those who leave the occupation. They are distinguished from experienced technicians who may move between employers but don’t add to the overall trained workforce in the occupation.

TechForce said that although the shortage of vehicle technicians has been ongoing, it became more severe in 2013, and the gap between supply and demand has continued to increase through the present.

The report shows 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected 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, according to TechForce.

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 Bureau of Labor Statistics new entrant demand for diesel technicians is 28,300 annually, against a supply of 11,966 in 2016. For the collision market, the bureau’s projected annual new entrant demand is 17,200 technicians, compared to a supply of 5,791 completions in 2016.

As to what can be done to alleviate the supply shortage, TechForce CEO and Executive Director Jennifer Maher pointed to a need to promote the technician profession and trade schools.

“A big part of the problem is the outdated image of the ‘grease monkey’ mechanic that students and their parents, teachers, and counselors may have,” Maher said. “Today’s techs are well-paid, highly skilled, hands-on problem solvers who are not burdened by massive school debt like their four-year school counterparts. As we change this image, we can get more students interested in becoming technicians.”

The new Transportation Technician Supply Report is available here.

Another report from TechForce, released last year, showed a heightened demand for vehicle technicians in the U.S. in the coming years.

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