Are Automotive Technicians at A Critical Stage?

Are Automotive Technicians at A Critical Stage?

HAPPY MOTORING

Tee702@aol.com 

Teresa is a top-notch mechanic with more than 28 years of experience repairing everything from Porsche’s to school buses. Currently she teaches a basic auto-repair class for women.

The Automotive Industry is changing each day, with new challenges, emissions standards and technology. Trying to keep up with the chaos is not always easy. Being a part of this industry for over 40 years, I am one of the lucky ones to have embraced new technology, but not all in this business have.

Many of the more experienced of yesteryear are finding themselves in the back of the class when it comes to newer vehicles. Being a backyard mechanic and finding employment in automotive repair was relatively easy and there were plenty of jobs to be found.

But with today’s vehicles, this is far from reality. Knowing the basics about auto repair is a must since all fossil-fueled vehicles still require many of the main components like a battery, alternator, fuel, glass (which on many cars are not part of the vehicle’s structure), tires, brakes etc.

Unlike older vehicles, today’s cars use sensors, avoidance systems, in some cases several onboard computers to monitor, sensing and controlling the vehicle’s every rotation. It appears that future mechanics will need some type of engineering knowledge just to understand them.

In today’s challenging times for skilled labor, depending on the area you live in around the country there is a huge shortage of technicians to handle the work load. Shops in some cases are not able to give the customer a time frame as to when the repair will be completed if their staffing levels for skilled workers are slim.

I personally have been approached by a few local companies inquiring if I would contract with them to work on an as needed basis since it is very difficult to find the skilled employees for the specific repairs needed. This is not only an industry issue, but also one the country needs to take notice and join in on finding proactive solutions for the automotive industry’s future.

I recently discovered that many high schools are contemplating eliminating Auto Shop from their curriculum, not because they wish to abolish its place in the schools, but because students are just not enrolling in these classes.

Some of the high schools I have discussed this very topic with have indicated that most of their counselors are more focused on encouraging their students to enroll in college courses, and fail to embrace and energize them to take a skill course in high school.

More and more young women are actually stepping up and taking on the challenge of auto shop, each with their own personal reasons. A few know that when they are attending college, they will own a vehicle and want to learn how to maintain one or even change a tire to help with added expenses. Others love working with their hands and find these classes to help fill the need for it.

The industry currently is at a critical point; in order to fill all the needed positions for the future, we need to begin working on how to encourage the younger generation to step away from sitting in front of their personal devices and learn how to repair them. If we fail now, the future for skilled labor will be at an all-time low in America.

There is no one solution to this problem, the industry as a whole really has their work cut out. Finding creative ways to energize students to embrace skilled labor is no easy task, but one that is in need of immediate attention.

Solano Community College in Vallejo, California has stepped up their game and added additional space to their Automotive Technology courses. Many of the classes can now be completed online; with the majority of the curriculum are hands-on experience.

For further information, go to www.solano.edu/business/ automotive_technician.php.

Or find a college near you. Happy Motoring.

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