Auto Service World
News   September 16, 2020   by Allan Janssen

Tech shortage continues to worsen: new study

The U.S. will be short approximately 642,000 automotive, diesel, and collision technicians by 2024 if current trends hold, according to a new study by TechForce Foundation.

The Phoenix, Ariz.-based non-profit group has just released its 2020 Transportation Technician Supply & Demand Report, with its conclusion that the transportation technician shortage continues to worsen.

The 2020 Technician Supply & Demand Report supplements the Foundation’s previous reports, adjusting prior projections to reflect research from the National Center for Education Statistics and TechForce’s own analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Citing both increasing demand for professional techs and a declining supply of new techs entering the industry, the update concludes that the technician shortage is increasing in severity despite a slight uptick in new post-secondary degrees and certificates for future diesel technicians.

“Although demand is strong, with 642,000 auto/diesel/collision techs needed between 2020 and 2024, the shortage continues to worsen,” said Jennifer Maher, TechForce CEO. “The good news is these careers have been deemed essential by the government, and the transportation industry is organizing to do something about the shortage. TechForce’s campaigns are leveraging the industry’s collective voice to inspire the next generation of technicians and address the root causes of the shortage.”

Recent surveys show an increased interest in transportation technology work, both among younger students and career changers whose jobs may have been lost or furloughed because of the pandemic. Surveys of high school students show that more than half are open to something other than a four-year degree.

The report concludes that for both the near- and long-term, the only sustainable solution is to:

  • Focus as an industry on increasing awareness of the career opportunities that exist for new entrant transportation technicians
  • Turn that awareness into interest
  • Turn that interest into enrolments in our high school and postsecondary training programs
  • Engage with schools to bring their students into mentorships and apprenticeships to bridge the students’ gap between education and industry
  • Turn those mentorships and apprenticeships into employees
  • Retain those employees through competitive pay, good benefits and a great company culture focused on caring for its employees

According to TechForce Director of National Initiatives Greg Settle, who authored the report, “Our projections do not reflect potential impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are seeing indications of increased interest in technical program enrollments. With our next report at year-end, we expect to be able to provide further insight into COVID-19 related trends.”

“Despite record rates of unemployment, there continues to be strong demand for our graduates,” says Jerome Grant, CEO of Universal Technical Institute. “Employers need skilled technicians to fill essential jobs and, as many in our nation look for new paths to prosperity, we’re seeing growing interest in our programs and in technical careers.”

You can download the 2020 Technician Supply & Demand Report HERE.

TechForce Foundation is a nonprofit with the mission to champion students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional transportation technicians. TechForce distributes more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually, thanks to its generous corporate sponsors and donors. It also spearheads a workforce development initiative to help encourage and support more young people to pursue the vehicle technician profession.



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51 Comments » for Tech shortage continues to worsen: new study
  1. Philip Singer says:

    Have you or are there any figures for Canada with respect to the shortage of technicians?

    • Avatar photo Allan Janssen says:

      Hi Phil. I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any studies that have looked at that. I would like to know that number too, and I have put out requests to a number of groups. So far, I haven’t found the answer. I’ll keep looking.

      • JOHN BRENNAN says:

        How is the BLS able to predict what is going to happen tomorrow?All the industry experts have been predicting ride sharing and self driving cars to cut new car sales in half over the next few years.I have been a technician in new car dealers for 38 years and there has always been shortages of idiots willing to work for free.It’s just another ploy and wage fixing technique.

      • Brent Hansen says:

        If you want the answer, just ask me, I will tell you why nobody wants to get into this industry. Social media has exposed what will happen to these tech school grads once they get into the trade. The majority of them will end up in a dealership working for flat rate pay. The Dealerships have the worst benefits, no pension or retirement and inconsistent pay. The warranty times they pay are a joke. If you run out of work because there is not enough work to go around for all the techs they hired, the owners don’t care since they don’t have to pay you. I have told anyone that will listen to never get into this trade, never! I am definitely not the only one, nobody that I know who works as a flat rate dealership tech would ever recommend to someone they like to seek out a career in this steaming pile of a trade.
        I could go on forever with numerous examples of the life as a flat rate dealer tech, it would take several days if you wanna hear it.

        • Greasy george says:

          Agreed. Twenty years in and looking for an escape.

          • John says:

            I have been putting 2 stroke engines on cheap Walmart bicycles and making about $100 an hour.The Bike Mobile is only charging $120 an hour plus road service fees and taxes to tune-up your bicycles.Why would anyone want to do free warranty work and recalls on cars?

        • Ford Guy says:

          Myself have been working at Ford dealers for 38 years, I have been a full time Shop Foreman and been on the line, The problem is the Flat Rate system is not designed for the cars/trucks and the current technology. I have gone back on the line due to politics as a foreman. Under a normal Diesel Diagnosis you have about .5 for diagnosis, You can try to collect M-Time for abnormal diagnosis if your warranty clerk knows how to collect it. The manufacture says “Verification is management responsibility” How is this right, There is no service manager that can do this for 60 cars/trucks a day. I would not recommend this trade to anybody.

          • John Brennan says:

            The flat-rate system works just fine if it is used legally but what we have now is perverted and criminal.The flat-rate system is supposed to be a competitive bidding process,meaning that all anyone is legally allowed to do is politely ask the technician what he or she is willing to perform the repairs for and either accept or decline their bids.They cannot use book prices or times same as retail prices can only be suggested.Flat-rate time guides are for technician reference ONLY.Those are being influenced down.Even warranty repair must be left open to competitive market forces.It is actually criminal and they should go to prison for what they are doing now.They cannot force us to adhere to any books or they are making an agreement with a third party to fix costs,prices or wages which is collusion and criminal.

          • John Brennan says:

            Forcing technician to adhere to any book times or not allowing them to write their own bids is criminal and any threats,intimidation or harassment compounds those crimes.We have shops flat out telling the techs that they will be fired for even mentioning the word “union”.The techs don’t need unions if they are educated and advised of their legal rights.Catch any of these crooks on video and document a case on their asses.It is beyond obvious that they are forcing these labor times.Some shops do not even wants the techs logging or accounting of their own times like it is all flexible and at their discretion on payday.It’s way beyond wage theft now.

  2. Richard Crowley says:

    I am a retired Ford technician. specializing in drivability and electrical issues. I see the data for shortage but my real concern is lack of pay for needed skills and tool requirements and continued schooling for advanced technology in today’s cars. I don’t see much of a change coming.

    • JOHN BRENNAN says:

      They are blowing them out far faster than they will ever be able to create new ones.”A nationwide survey by Carlisle & Co. recently found that technicians are miserable — so miserable that almost a quarter of them left their dealerships last year. Another 25 percent left the industry altogether. Unstable pay and feeling undervalued were major reasons. MIT labor economist Tom Kochan says there’s one way to change that.”

    • JOHN BRENNAN says:

      Ford just robbed 40% from technicians of directed repairs because they invested their own hard earned money into expensive power tools then can’t figure out why they are having technician shortages.

      • Joshua John says:

        Ford didnt “rob” anyone. The technicians picked this career: whether its due to their inability to get a degree, not being able to get a job due to a criminal record or they enjoy working on vehicles. There really is no other option, however based on your complaint, there must be another ridiculous option: people who want handouts.

        • Douglas Hamner says:

          Your attitude is the reason why their is a tech shortage…”Criminal Record?” Really? I was a Aviation tech in the U.S. Army for 14 years, busted my ass to gain knowledge that none of you Bullshit job holding middle management would never have the intelligence to have. Skilled trades like us keep the lights on in this country. Maybe we should walk away for a couple of weeks, lets see how long you plebes last.

  3. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    A technicians current market value is 61.33-71% of their stated retail shop rates.NADA has been criminally colluding to force their gross margins on service labor continually higher and higher for years.Nobody more than doubles the cost of anything especially labor.We have scumbag car dealers charging $165 an hour now trying to pay some hapless idiot $13 an hour on a flat-rate or 1,269% over cost.That’s worse than pharmaceuticals.That is not a business,it’s scam!”A nationwide survey by Carlisle & Co. recently found that technicians are miserable — so miserable that almost a quarter of them left their dealerships last year. Another 25 percent left the industry altogether. Unstable pay and feeling undervalued were major reasons. MIT labor economist Tom Kochan says there’s one way to change that.”

  4. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    This is the current average gross profit margin for any skilled trade or professional service(On the trailing twelve months basis gross margin in 4 Q 2019 grew to 38.67 %.)More specific to the category(Eqmm EquipmentOperators,MasterMechanics 49.05 392.40 9.2 58.1 28.50 77.55 620.40) This means my value as a technician is 61.33-71% of your stated retail shop rate.A competitive 40% margin is 80% over cost and 87% gross margin is 751% over and nearly 10 times what is normally acceptable.These dealers are criminally colluding to cap the technicians pay at 25% or less.Technicians have a right to their market values and they should only be applying a competitive margin but they force the shop rates as high as they think the marklet will bear then force the technicians pay down to increase these margins.That is organized crime and not capitalism!

  5. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    7.1 million scientist and engineers in this penal colony of a country.THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF TECHNICIANS there is just a massive oversupply of scumbag salesman trying to collect 90% margins on service labor.

  6. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    There have been shortages of technicians willing to do free warranty work and recalls since the dawn of time.

  7. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    The BLS is actually predicting a decline in employment for technicians and industry experts are predicting that ride sharing and self driving cars are going to cut new car sales in half in the next few years.Crying shortages constantly is just another criminal wage fixing technique.There are only shortages of people to work free and cheap.”Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

  8. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    You are probably going to need a good calculator for this,but what is 99% of nothing?

  9. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    I was making more money back when shop rates were only $60 an hour,now they are $160.You really don’t need an MIT labor economists to figure that shit out.

  10. JOHN BRENNAN says:

    This is a 30 city average for skilled trades,45% margin or 90% over is very high.We have these new car dealers and rathole chop shops trying for 90% GPM’s and 1,200% over now.

  11. bob conrad says:

    Technicians as a whole do not unite to combat greedy dealership owners. The owners know this and wont do anything until the last technician is gone. It’s been a gravy train that they cannot let go of.

    • JOHN BRENNAN says:

      NADA is very organized against the technicians and they are being criminally wage fixed.Technicians should be advised of the laws,their rights and values upon hire just like OSHA and sexual harassment training.The average competitive gross profit margin on any skilled trade or professional service is currently 38.67%,29% more specific to mechanics which makes a technicians real market value at between 61.33-71% of their stated retail shop rates.Techs are being paid a fraction of that and are being capped at 25% or less across the board.Also the flat-rate system is a competitive bidding process and all they are legally allowed to do is politely ask the technician what they are willing to perform the repair/s for and either accept or decline their bids.Nobody would believe how corrupt it all is now!

  12. Anthony cello says:

    Hello current auto tech at a Chrysler dealer. Iv been in the trade about 7 years now. I can list about 10 reasons why we don’t want to do this any more.

  13. Corey Smith says:

    25 years as a dealer mechanic. ASE master, L1, smog licence, Audi master tech, at dealers in California. Constant training, 30 grand plus in tools, and constantly getting pay chiseled away at. You will be completely unappreciated, unvalued, and miserable. I literaly came in one morning with my truck, and left with my tools. Everyone here is right, do anything else. If you are smart enough to be a compete ttech on today’s , you are smart enough to do something else.

    • Max power says:

      I was so desperate to leave a job when I worked on lankershim boulevard at 3 J’s trucking in Los Angeles I used my girlfriend’s Volkswagen and jammed my toolbox on the back of her bumper and strapped it down with the tie down and crushed her license plate cover and get the hell out!

  14. TP says:

    To those reading the above….they are absolutely correct. Avoid this industry like your life depends on it. Because it does. Seek another line of work.

  15. Ben says:

    Why be a mechanic.A person can start out in a warehouse making more and move up and make more than a person will ever make as a mechanic and NO tools to buy and ho yeah there’s that health ins and retirement.I have been a mechanic for 36 years and when asked I tell the young people to run from auto repair.The point is there is way better pay in other industries.

  16. Bria LaPoint says:

    That’s hilarious. I told my step dad that I wanted to be a mechanic or welder. He told me that only men do that. Part of the problem is chauvinism. If a female wants to be a welder or mechanic LET HER. who gives a rats behind if she isn’t male?

  17. Flat Rate Tech says:

    Bunch of cry babies on here. I been a tech for 20 years started at the bottom making nothing worked up to where I am now. Making over $100,000 a year working 5 days a week at a dealership at my own pace. 4 weeks paid vacation, benefits, 401K all of it. There is more work than you can do because cry babies like the ones here couldn’t hack it and quit. Starting tech pay here is $30.00 up to $50.00 an hour. If you can’t make money in this business than you don’t belong.

    • Dave says:

      I agree with everyone on here, there are alot of issues with the auto service industry. But also you can definitely make good money, if you are good and you want to work. Been in the business for 26 years. I’m a working shop foreman, I get paid a bonus of 500 for csi and a bonus for shop hrs, 1.25 for every hr my techs produce,then I get 35 an hr for the hrs I make, usually 45-50. Have techs in my shop that struggle to get over 42 and techs that consistently make 75 plus sometimes 100 plus. This job definitely isn’t for everyone, and it’s definitely very stressful, fast paced. Everyone needs to wait these days, they think that a scan tool just tells tech what to replace and it only takes 5 minutes to diag a car, because AutoZone told me it’s my O2 sensor. But there are places that pay very good money, and appreciate good help, and have good health insurance, disability ins,life ins ,401k with match.

    • John says:

      The truth is that those shops are far and few between.Most dealers are just fishing for guys to do free warranty work and recalls.I just seen a Ford dealer charging $165 an hour trying to pay some idiot $13 an hour on a flat-rate.Anybody with your arrogant attitude should be taken out back and thrown in the dumpster.Some guys suck all the gravy and C/P work off the top and everybody else gets the warranty and recalls that don’t pay squat!

      • FlatRateTech says:

        Here is a cry baby here. If you get in this business this is what you have to work with. You are probably the one getting paid $13 an hour and have been in the business for 8 years and wonder why you are not making more money or hours.
        It’s because you don’t belong.

    • John says:

      This is the exact definition of fraud YOU CANNOT CHARGE A PREMIUM PRICE THEN SUBSTITUTE AN INFERIOR PRODUCT.DF’s like you think that this is cool as long as you are the one being paid the most but you are too dumb to understand that you are still being paid less than your value.” Dealers need to look at lower skill level technicians. There are several benefits: They’re a lot easier to steal from somebody else and they make you more money because they have a lower cost. You hire an A mechanic at $25 an hour, a C for $15 an hour, and your labor rate is $75 an hour. So you’re paying $25 to get $75 or paying $15 to get $75.”

    • John says:

      Some shops are using this gimmick to force all the experienced guys with all the certifications to do all the techno and warranty work that doesn’t pay anything and then all the little rookies get all the easy higher paying C/P work. “Dealers need to look at lower skill level technicians. There are several benefits: They’re a lot easier to steal from somebody else and they make you more money because they have a lower cost. You hire an A mechanic at $25 an hour, a C for $15 an hour, and your labor rate is $75 an hour. So you’re paying $25 to get $75 or paying $15 to get $75.”

      • Brent Hansen says:

        You are 100% correct!
        And thats just the way this business operates, pure and simple disrespect for loyal and well trained techs and theft from those techs as

    • Max power says:

      I’m not really sure if a lot of people believe you here? I worked at San Francisco Ford which would be one of the top money producers in the world that only made $36.45 an hour? I always hear the stories about how people are making over $100,000 a year. Just go on YouTube I think their headhunters at this point and are trying to convince young people to get into the trade. You should probably give the name and address to the company you work and some of these people would apply? Sounds like b******* to me!

      • FlatRateTechpodcast says:

        First off get out of California.
        If you are a Master Tech you can make the higher pay rate. But at your pay rate you could make $100,000 a year at the right dealership. You are probably doing recalls and services on crazy and broke California peoples focuses. I have heard Fleet work is where it’s at. If you are not making hours go somewhere else. Get an interview and Ask the director to show you the numbers/hours the techs are making a week. On the spot so they don’t make up some bs worksheet. If it looks good get a guarantee 40 for at least 2 months. If they won’t give that then they know you won’t make 40 a week. I would ask for 50.

    • Mac-Off says:

      Then be grateful as you are the exception, not the rule. I started at the bottom sweeping, garbage, picking up tools, ect. in early 1994 through a vocational program at my high school. All these years later, I’m still broke, but now physically as well as financially. Finding a good, reliable, qualified mechanic that will work for what most shops want to pay is like winning the lottery. No other skilled trade requires even close to the investment that auto/truck techs make. Wether tools or eduction and almost all have higher starting wages and room to grow. The bottom line is GREED. I’ve worked with those techs they hire for cheap out of school. They have the knowledge, but put a wrench in their hand and most(not all) are like a monkey and football in dark room. Then hand them their weekly/bi weekly check and watch them RUN away. Many shop owners demand sacrifices they themselves won’t make. Furthermore, the auto engineering department is where good ideas go to die. I know that fancy box tells you it will work fine, but anyone with a lick of (not so)common sense knows a 4″ bolt wont come out a 2″ gap. The disconnect between manufacturers and the repair industry is astounding, and further eroding a once noble profession to the point of irrelevance. I used to love my job, and when it got to the point, via constant physical and financial pain, that I would pray at night to not wake up in the morning, I left. The industry is broken, period. If a step up in life involves someone elses head/back, then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM, wether an owner, writer, or tech.

  18. FlatRateTech says:

    You keep talking about what dealers labor rates are compared to pay rates. If YOU are not getting paid what you are worth or willing to accept to work there then go somewhere else, or you are not worth a higher pay rate. In This business you have to play the game. Why would you let them steal from you? Why would you go there just to do warranty work and watch all the noobs do the gravy work? Sounds like you are at a shit shop that will never change and you should leave. You are probably at a Toyota or Honda etc shop. I was for 17 years and left went to a American car brand and I specialize in 1 area and that’s pretty much all I do. Everyone does 1 thing like transmissions, engines, steering and suspension, A/C etc. so you don’t have to worry about who is getting all the timing belts or brakes and warranty etc and get pissed off.

  19. FlatRateTech says:

    Hey John. Start your own shop and pay your techs the $165.00 an hour labor rate and see how long your business lasts.
    It’s the same crap at every dealership.
    Play the game.

  20. TP says:

    More bs! Young people need to avoid this industry like the plague! Other industry offer far greater benefit and opportunities than the automotive industry. Save time, money and heartache. Avoid this as if your life depends upon it because it does!

  21. Todd says:

    I went to community college for auto technology when I was 45 years old. big mistake. I wish now that I had done cnc instead. No doubt, I learned plenty reading those books. I didn’t get much out of the lab. I passed the 4 aSE exams I took. I got out and was told I was too old for the physical labor. at job interviews My friends that were 20 something got into the field and complained about flat rate system. I ended up maintaining office printers instead. I was good at diagnosing their issues. I was going to go to cnc school, but medical issues with an aging parent stopped that.

  22. Carl says:

    I think the comments speak for themselves. You have maybe one or two that actually enjoy it and the rest like myself understand that the auto repair industry is a hell hole. DO SOMETHING ELSE that actually pays instead of fighting with incompetent service advisors and management. You have to fight daily just to get these idiots to pay you for what you do. Yeah you can make some money for awhile until you crash and burn like the rest of us on here.

  23. Wally1 says:

    If you are a young man considering being a auto tech, Stop! Go talk to actual current tech’s that have at least 20 years on the job. They will all tell you to do something else. This is hard, back breaking work and you have to invest tons of money for your own tools. Every dealership will screw you! You will be broken down, in deep debt and little invested for the future. I worked for a dealer for 6 years, had a moment of clarity and changed careers, Was able to retire at 52. I still work on cars, as a fun hobby. Please don’t beleive me and educate yourself, before making automotive repair a choice for your future. .

  24. BR says:

    Never Ever Work Flat Rate it’s TRUE Communism.

  25. john a barber says:

    a plumber charges 120 an hour to fix your sink, there is not a 1,000 dollars worth of plumbing in your house, a shop charges 100 an hour to work on a 70,000 car with 30 computers communicating on wireless can bus, I have a tool box that weighs more than a plumbers car, and if I make a mistake people die, yeah, the industry is doomed !

  26. Lucy Brown says:

    I am in the UK, I have been a vehicle tech now for around 40 plus years, and I can fully see why there’s now a problem with skilled staff supplies, it’s because we have been constantly undervalued for decades, no perks, poor pay, often bad working conditions (cold in the winter), having to buy our own tools to earn other people and the Government money (taxes). My boyfriend drives a bus, he earns way more than I have ever done for sitting on his arse and turning a steering wheel, and he gets perks like decent sick pay, bonuses, and welfare schemes. There’s little to attract youngsters into the trade unless things change big time.

  27. Joe says:

    At 40 years old, I completed tech school at community college. This was in 2021. Before I completed tech school, I had passed some ASE’s and got my California smog inspector license. Learned how to use a picoscope and really got into learning how to test circuits. Got a job at an indie euro specialty shop. After 6 months, I quit and sold my tool box. I was getting paid $21/hr with full benefits, but my body hurt like hell every morning. While I got some good experience, the work itself sucked. It was no fun repairing wiring damage caused by rodents! The damage is always in the worst locations! I’d get rushed to get jobs done on vehicle brands that were unfamiliar to me, due to inexperience. The entry level pay does not feel like it’s worth it. Hell no. Three of my tech school classmates were working at indie shops and dealerships. At the moment, they’re no longer working in auto repair. Also, instead of relaxing on my days off, I was watching training videos to gain an understanding of systems on different car brands. Am I getting paid for that? No! Busting my ass for free.Yeah, no thanks auto repair! See ya! What a waste of time and money.

  28. Isaac Sargent says:

    I’ve been a technician for 4 year and im not to pleased with how I am treated. Im honestly moving on because pay is garbage. I have no say on how much to quote my own jobs. Management often gas lights me for being honest and straight forward. And takes zero accountability for issues I have with how things are ran. I got fired and not really sure why. I just feel like no one really cares for technicians anymore. We are viewed as replaceable. I done with this. My ex left me simply due to pay. I have been sick more then ever before. Im tired. Im depressed because I got nothing really going for me. I can’t do this anymore. It has literally made me life a living hell. Im not a master but I was dedicated to becoming one. But now I simply don’t have the desire to continue. Lots of my co workers are close behind me. Management picks favorites and cans the rest. Im 25 and im done!

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